New documents confirm that Google maintains and manually alters a news media blacklist that has targeted conservative outlets.
Two official policies called the “misrepresentation policy” and the “good neighbor policy” contribute to the company’s “XPA news blacklist,” maintained by Google’s Trust & Safety team, The Daily Caller’s J. Arthur Bloom reported Tuesday. “T&S will be in charge of updating the blacklist when there is a demand,” one of the documents reads.
Many search features use “the deceptive_news domain blacklist” to filter out sites that violate the misrepresentation and good neighbor policies, according to the document The Daily Caller unearthed. It was approved by Ben Gomes, Google’s head of search, Google Fellow Pandu Nayak, and software engineer Paul Haahr. Haahr is also involved in “fringe ranking: not showing fake news, hate speech, conspiracy theories, or science/medical/history denial unless we’re sure that’s what the user wants.”
The blacklist aims “to bar the sites from surfacing in any Search feature or news product. It will not cause a demotion in the organic search results or de-index them altogether.” Targeted sites are not be removed from the “ten blue links” of the search results, but they are removed from most other search features.
A section of the memo describes the types of results impacted: results that show content from news publishers, results that give single answers, and results that show content owned, licensed, or edited by Google.
A memo about the deceptive news blacklist, last edited on December 3, 2018, describes how a site can be blacklisted for deceptive news. Bloom noted one important sentence: “The investigation of the watchlist is done in the tool Athena, the Ares manual review tool, and intakes signals from Search, Webspan, and Ares in order to complete reviews.”
Bloom emphasized the “manual review tool” involved in maintaining the blacklist. This shows that Google employees manually alter the blacklist. He claimed this contradicted Google CEO Sundar Pichai’s testimony before the House Judiciary Committee on December 11: “This is working at scale, we don’t manually intervene on any particular search result.”
Dr. Robert Epstein, a Ph.D. psychologist who studies tech engine manipulation, insisted this means Pichai lied to Congress. “We also have further confirmation that Google’s CEO lied to Congress,” he told PJ Media. He said he knows about ten blacklists, and there are likely more.
Just out: another leak from #Google showing that the company manually adjusts what we see in search results & that G's CEO lied to Congress. It's done by #blacklisting, as I explained in 2016 here: https://t.co/THZqV4LBN5 The new leak is described here: https://t.co/bRj4mUmk8J
— Dr. Robert Epstein (@DrREpstein) April 9, 2019
After Bloom published his story at The Daily Caller, a Google spokesperson responded to his request for comment. “We do not manually determine the order of any search result, nor do our algorithms or policies attempt to make any judgement on the political leanings of a website,” the statement read. “Our Google News inclusion policies are publicly available online. They provide guidelines on content and behaviors for matters like sponsored content, deceptive practices, and more.”
“Sites that do not adhere to these policies are not eligible to appear on news surfaces or in information boxes in Search,” the Google spokesperson added. “These policies do not impact the way these sites appear in organic blue-link Google Search results.”
— Arthur Bloom (@j_arthur_bloom) April 9, 2019
This statement did not contradict the document Bloom had uncovered. Google does manually choose which websites go on the blacklist, and that blacklist does determine many Google Search results. It seems Google emphasizes the distinction between selecting sites on the blacklist and “manually intervening in any particular search result.”
Google’s liberal bias is well-known and well documented. PragerU sued Google for viewpoint discrimination and former Google software engineer James Damore filed a lawsuit for discriminating against white men. He told PJ Media liberals at Google search for conservatives to get them fired, and terrified conservatives are “in the closet” at Google.
A Google executive bragged about helping to increase Latino turnout in 2016, hoping it would help Hillary Clinton. Epstein’s research has concluded that Google bias may account for all of Clinton’s 2016 popular vote margin.
As for the blacklist itself, it includes many conservative sites, including Gateway Pundit, Matt Walsh’s blog, Gary North’s blog “teapartyeconomist.com,” Caroline Glick’s website, Conservative Tribune, and the American Spectator.
Follow Tyler O’Neil, the author of this article, on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.