Aug 28, 2018

Go deeper: Tracing Trump's Google censorship tweet

Fox Business' Lou Dobbs. Photo: John Lamparski via Getty Images

President Trump tweeted this morning that Big Tech platforms, specifically Google, are suppressing conservative voices and news, while Trump economic adviser Larry Kudlow later added that the administration is "taking a look" at whether Google searches should be regulated.

Why it matters: As Axios' David McCabe points out, "Nobody has presented strong evidence that the engineers at Silicon Valley companies manipulate algorithms to intentionally disadvantage conservatives because of a personal political bias, despite such claims being made for years."

The backdrop: This is not the first time Trump, or even conservatives at large, have accused social media platforms of censoring their voices. Just last month, Trump seized on allegations that Twitter was "shadow banning" conservatives and threatened to investigate the practice he called "discriminatory and illegal."

  • Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey responded by claiming that while the company is admittedly more left-leaning, the platform "does not look at content with regards to political viewpoint or ideology."

This morning's Google-aimed tirade appears to stem from a PJ Media article titled, "96 Percent of Google Search Results for 'Trump' News Are from Liberal Media Outlets," which was covered last night by Fox Business' Lou Dobbs.

  • In a test that she admitted was "not scientific," PJ Media editor Paula Bolyward Googled the word "Trump" and classified each result based on a media chart compiled by right-leaning Sinclair Broadcast Group anchor Sharyl Atkisson.
  • She found that out of the top 100 search results, only five were by media outlets considered conservative — Fox News and the Wall Street Journal. CNN, WaPo, and NBC appeared most frequently in the top 100, prompting Bolyard to conclude there is a "blatant prioritization of left-leaning and anti-Trump media outlets."
  • "PJ Media did not appear in the first 100 results, nor did National Review, The Weekly Standard, Breitbart, The Blaze, The Daily Wire, Hot Air, Townhall, [or] Red State."

Google says it doesn't bias its results toward any political ideology.

"When users type queries into the Google Search bar, our goal is to make sure they receive the most relevant answers in a matter of seconds. Search is not used to set a political agenda and we don't bias our results toward any political ideology. Every year, we issue hundreds of improvements to our algorithms to ensure they surface high-quality content in response to users' queries. We continually work to improve Google Search and we never rank search results to manipulate political sentiment."
— Google spokesperson

The bigger picture: Fringe conservative outlets have been citing suspect data analysis for a while to discredit tech companies and say that they censor conservative voices.

  • For example, Western Journal, a pro-Trump website, published a study they conducted that they say proves Facebook's algorithm changes were crushing traffic to conservative sites. The study was picked up by other conservative outlets, like The Daily Wire, Gateway Pundit and One News Now.

What's next: Facebook, Twitter, and Google will be returning to Capitol Hill Sept. 5 to talk about censorship and election interference.

Go deeper

Mass shooting in Milwaukee: What we know so far

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett in 2012. Photo: John Gress/Corbis via Getty Images

Six people died in a shooting at the Milwaukee Molson Coors brewery complex on Wednesday, including the shooter, Mayor Tom Barrett told reporters at an evening press conference with local police.

What's happening: Police said "there is no active threat" just before 6 pm ET, but noted the scene remains active. Police chief Alfonso Morales told reporters that officers have "more than 20 buildings we have to secure" at the complex and they do not currently have all employees accounted for, as more than 1,000 were at the complex during the shooting.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 8 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Live updates: CDC confirms possible community spread of coronavirus

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens.

U.S. clinicians have found the novel coronavirus in a person who did not recently return from a foreign country nor have contact with a confirmed case, the CDC said Tuesday.

The big picture: COVID-19 has killed more than 2,700 people and infected over 81,000 others. By Wednesday morning, South Korea had the most cases outside China, with 1,261 infections. Europe's biggest outbreak is in Italy, where 374 cases have been confirmed.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 24 mins ago - Health

Trump assigns Pence to lead U.S. coronavirus response

Photo: ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump announced at a press briefing Wednesday evening that he'll be putting Vice President Mike Pence in charge of leading the administration's response to the coronavirus.

The big picture: In the wake of a market sell-off and warnings from health officials that there's a real threat of the coronavirus spreading in the U.S., Trump sought to reassure the nation and Wall Street that the U.S. is "ready" for whatever comes next.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy