In an explosive video released by Project Veritas Wednesday morning, Google software engineer Greg Coppola blew the whistle on Google News, explaining how it is biased against President Donald Trump. This confirms the results of an unscientific test on Google News bias run by PJ Media editor Paula Bolyard last year (tweeted out by Trump himself), and a more scientific study also suggesting bias. The Google News slant is not a conspiracy theory, though Google of course denies manipulating results. After all, Google employees heavily favor Democrats in their political donations.
“Google News is really an aggregator of just a handful of sites and all of those sites really are vitriolically against President Trump, which I would really consider to be interference in the American election,” Coppola tells Project Veritas’s James O’Keefe in the video. “Like for example, CNN is the most commonly used source in Google News: 20 percent of all results for Donald Trump are from CNN, when that’s the entire internet of millions of sites.”
“CNN is something that Donald Trump and his supporters would call ‘really fake news,'” the software engineer rightly noted. He was not necessarily endorsing the accusation, and even Trump supporters who rightly attack CNN for its bias should acknowledge that its news is often based in fact, but embellished or twisted.
“I think it’s ridiculous to say that there’s no bias. I think everyone who supports anything other than the Democrats — anyone who’s pro-Trump or in any way deviates from what CNN and The New York Times are pushing — notices how bad it is,” Coppola says.
What about Google CEO Sundar Pichai’s consistent denials regarding bias? “I think maybe in his mind he can justify it maybe through some redefinition,” the software engineer explains. Indeed, many people have no idea that they are biased.
But are Google News results truly skewed? After all, the “mainstream” — or legacy — media leans left, but Americans still trust outlets like The New York Times. It may be possible to explain some anti-Trump bias in terms of market forces.
Coppola witnessed the rising bias in the 2016 election. When he started in 2014, “no one” talked about politics. Then as the election ramped up, the narrative that “anyone who liked Donald Trump was. racist, even a Nazi” started gaining traction. “I mean every tech company, everybody in New York, everybody in the field of computer science basically believed that.”
Coppola is not suggesting one grand conspiracy, where the top brass at Google are pulling the levers intentionally to pull the wool over the eyes of the American people. Even just a few bad actors could have a tremendous impact.
“A small number of people do work on making sure that certain news sites are promoted,” he says. “It would only take a couple out of an organization of a hundred thousand, you know, to make sure that the product is a certain way.”
Coppola is not alleging that all of Google is out to persecute conservatives. “On a day to day basis, I think probably a lot of people know that I like Donald Trump and they don’t really care,” he says.
But the engineer does note a rising culture where people “really just want to call people names to get them to toe a certain line.” These more activist types might search through a private conservative mailing list to get people fired, as former senior software engineer James Damore told PJ Media last year.
By contrast, Coppola says he wants “tech that supports human freedom” and diversity of opinion. Most Americans would likely agree. So where did it go wrong? And if Google search is biased, why do Americans still trust it?
“I think we had a long period of ten years, let’s say, when we had search and social media that didn’t have a political bias,” Coppola explains. “And we kind of got used to the idea that the top search result at Google is probably [the right answer]. The vast majority of people think that if something is high rated on Google search that it would be more correct.”
The Google engineer referenced the work of Ph.D. psychologist Robert Epstein. Epstein studies the search engine manipulation effect, and his research suggests that Hillary Clinton’s margin of victory in the popular vote in 2016 might be the result of pro-Clinton bias at Google. Himself a Clinton supporter in 2016, Epstein is worried about the power the company has to impact opinion and democracy without anyone realizing it.
“Now we have tech that really first of all is taking sides in a political contest, which I think any time you have big corporate power merging with political companies, it’s dangerous,” Coppola tells O’Keefe. “There’s an ambiguity about whether tech is neutral or whether it’s biased.” Citing his Ph.D. in computer science and his five years at Google, the software engineer said, “I don’t see any doubt that it’s very politically biased.”
“Are we going to continue to have elections that mean anything? Are we going to continue to think for ourselves or are we going to just let the big tech companies decide who wins every election from now on?” he asks. A harrowing question indeed.
As for the PJ Media report Trump tweeted, Paula Bolyard took to The Washington Post to insist that government regulation is not the answer to Big Tech bias. Epstein’s research may represent a better path: alerting the public to the unseen influence of these platforms.
Follow Tyler O’Neil, the author of this article, on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.