Research appears to have confirmed what many conservatives feared was happening in the lead-up to the 2020 election. A quantitative analytic study of Google search results shows that the world’s largest search engine steered queries toward liberal news and topics, potentially swaying as many as 6 million votes to President Joe Biden. The research was conducted by Robert Epstein, Director of the American Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology.
The results of Epstein’s work are supported in part by a paper published in February 2020 titled Social Media Effects; Hijacking Democracy and Civility in Civic Engagement in which researcher Bolane Olaniran of Texas Tech University concluded that social media messaging can have a significant impact on voter turnout and decision making. Olaniran states that “social media provide dangerous ways of spreading junk news within social networks comprised of friends and family.”
While the paper spends an exorbitant amount of time detailing the so-called “evils” of former President Trump and his messaging strategy, it is likewise easy to see how social media use and Google searches could direct people to the “preferred” ideology.
Of course, it doesn’t take a research scientist to figure out that Google is artificially driving a narrative. Back in December 2020, a San Diego, Calif. middle school student devised a research project that showed how ranking articles based on ideology could drive changes in voter behavior. The results clearly demonstrated how simply changing the order in which liberal, neutral, and conservative-slanted stories in a ranking can result in individuals supporting one candidate over another.
Another inquiring individual, Jacob Hess, who writes for Deseret News, also identified a liberal bias by doing a simple search query experiment using Google side-by-side with the search engine Freespoke. Hess asked several politically charged questions of the search engines and compared the first-page results. Questions about gender conformity, abortion, and white nationalism showed very different results. Hess found that not only did Google provide an overwhelmingly liberal slant to the questions, but the engine also directed the query away from the intended question to the question the search engine thought the person should be asking.
As an example, when asking Google if abortions hurt women, Google redirected the question to “Does a lack of abortion access hurt women?” Hess found similar examples in every Google query, noting that overwhelmingly, results held a liberal position, while Freespoke tended to provide direct answers to the question on the first page.
Controlling the flow of information and ideas has long been the bane of free-thinkers. In generations past, it was governments that sought to direct information for the purpose of conforming society to a specific viewpoint. Increasingly in the 21st century, it is technology platforms like Google, Facebook, and X that are driving the manipulation of thoughts in society, and all too often, the motivators are pushing radical, liberal beliefs that are at odds with traditional conservative values.