On Monday, President Donald Trump shared the results of a study showing that Hillary Clinton’s margin of victory in the popular vote in the 2016 election could be explained by Google bias. The study’s author, Ph.D. psychologist Robert Epstein, was himself a Clinton supporter in 2016, but he is concerned about Google’s power to manipulate elections.
“Wow, Report Just Out! Google manipulated from 2.6 million to 16 million votes for Hillary Clinton in 2016 Election! This was put out by a Clinton supporter, not a Trump Supporter! Google should be sued. My victory was even bigger than thought!” the president tweeted, referencing Judicial Watch.
Wow, Report Just Out! Google manipulated from 2.6 million to 16 million votes for Hillary Clinton in 2016 Election! This was put out by a Clinton supporter, not a Trump Supporter! Google should be sued. My victory was even bigger than thought! @JudicialWatch
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 19, 2019
Trump’s tweet likely referred to a 2017 white paper published by the American Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology (AIBRT) suggesting that Clinton’s popular vote margin was almost entirely attributable to pro-Clinton bias at Google.
“Extrapolating from the mathematics introduced in this report … the lead author of the PNAS study [Epstein himself] predicted that a pro-Clinton bias in Google’s search results would, over time, shift at least 2.6 million votes to Clinton. She won the popular vote in the November election by 2,864,974 votes,” Epstein wrote with his co-author Ronald E. Robertson.
“Without the pro-Clinton bias in Google’s search results, her win margin in the popular vote would have been negligible,” Epstein wrote.
Trump is correct to infer from this that his “victory was even bigger than thought.” If the study is correct, it is a near miracle that the president prevailed over Hillary Clinton in 2016.
I myself became aware of Epstein’s study last September at a screening of the film The Creepy Line, which heavily features Epstein’s research.
“It’s actually at the end of the paper I released months ago, quite a while ago,” Epstein told PJ Media last year.
“From my perspective, it’s pretty straightforward. It’s just math,” the psychologist said. He noted that “the math in the 2015 PNAS paper is pretty solid. There’s even a table in there that allows you to figure out whether or not you can use search rankings to flip an election based on the projected win margin.”
During the interview, Epstein lamented Trump’s win and his presidency, but he insisted that Google’s power is a much more important and terrifying issue.
“This is not a problem for conservatives. This is a problem for humanity,” the psychologist told PJ Media. “Who gave a handful of executives in Silicon Valley the right to decide what billions of people around the world can see and cannot see? Who gave them that power?”
It remains unclear why Trump referenced Judicial Watch in his tweet. Jill Farrell, public affairs director at Judicial Watch, told PJ Media, “We interpret President Trump’s tweet as encouragement that Judicial Watch investigate this issue as part of our Election Integrity Project.”
In any case, the results of Epstein’s study are indeed worrying for conservatives and liberals.
A survey last year found that conservative employees in Silicon Valley tech companies live in fear that their political beliefs will be found out. James Damore said conservatives at Google are “in the closet” and that Google executives are digging through a secret mailing list in order to out them.
Last month, a Google whistleblower told Project Veritas that Google News results are intentionally biased against 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.
Yet Google bias may not always be liberal. All Americans should be concerned about Google’s ability to interfere in elections, and a former Google engineer said the company will try to prevent Trump’s reelection. This should worry all Americans, no matter what they think about Trump.
Even so, the president is correct: Google’s bias makes his victory even more significant.
Follow Tyler O’Neil, the author of this article, on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.