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Is It a Conspiracy Theory to Suggest Google Is Biased Against Conservatives?

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On Tuesday morning, President Donald Trump tweeted the results of a PJ Media investigation into Google News results about bias on Alphabet's search engine giant. Mainstream media outlets attacked Trump's suggestion as a "conspiracy theory," but there is reason to think tech giants like Google, Facebook, and Amazon are biased against conservatives.

"Google search results for 'Trump News' shows only the viewing/reporting of Fake New Media," the president tweeted. "In other words, they have it RIGGED, for me & others, so that almost all stories & news is BAD. Fake CNN is prominent. Republican/Conservative & Fair Media is shut out. Illegal? 96% of results on “Trump News” are from National Left-Wing Media, very dangerous."

Trump concluded ominously, charging that "Google & others are suppressing voices of Conservatives and hiding information and news that is good. They are controlling what we can & cannot see. This is a very serious situation-will be addressed!"

That 96 percent figure came directly from PJ Media's supervising editor, Paula Bolyard. Using different laptops, she performed multiple Google News searches for the word "Trump," and found pervasive bias in favor of left-leaning news outlets. She also noted that PJ Media's Google traffic decreased after a May 2017 Google algorithm change, and has not recovered.

While Bolyard admitted her study was far from scientific, she also cited a far more in-depth study performed by SEO company "Can I Rank," which found "that top search results were almost 40% more likely to contain pages with a 'Left' or 'Far Left' slant the they were pages from the right." Tellingly, the study found that "16% of political keywords contained no right-leaning pages at all within the first page of results."

"Google does not manipulate results," Maggie Shiels, a public affairs representative at the company, told PJ Media. Bolyard also noted, however, that Bloomberg columnist Leonid Bershidsky wrote about the problem of bias earlier this year, noting that "Google's search algorithms are a black box to the public."

Unlike Trump, Bolyard never called for government regulation, and she expressed exasperation that the president would cite her article to suggest Google is involved in illegal activity.