Google is the world’s most popular search engine, accounting for 75% of all desktop internet searches and over 90% of all mobile phone searches. That’s why it matters tremendously that it’s using its power over what Americans know to limit searches that might lead to information about Biden’s suspected dementia. It also appears that Google isn’t listing articles that are critical of Obama in a way that could hurt Biden or help Trump.
To understand what Google is doing, you need to know that Google, like all search engines, has an autocomplete function. As you start typing in the query box, the search engine will start making suggestions for the most common searches that use the words you’re typing. To choose an innocuous example, if you type “dogs are” in the Google search engine, it will suggest the following as the most common searches that begin with the words “dogs are”:
Please note that, at the bottom of that image, you’ll see a statement that tells you that you can “Report inappropriate predictions.” In other words, Google has it within its power to affect the computer algorithm to erase predictions.
It’s now time for the “Google’s gift to Biden” experiment. To appreciate what Google has done, you need to start with search engines other than Google. I’m betting that your results will echo mine.
The search engines I chose were Bing, DogPile, and DuckDuckGo. These are all among Google’s top competitors. In each of these search engines, I typed the words “Joe Biden.” In all three, one of the top suggested searches was “Joe Biden dementia”:
I then expanded the search by adding the word “has.” The search engines offered me a whole menu of possibilities related to Biden’s mental competence:
What these three search engines reflect is that some of the most common searches on the internet for Biden relate to his mental competence. Since that is such a popular search, you would guess that Google would return identical results. That guess would be wrong.
Again, you can replicate what I did. When I typed “Joe Biden” in the Google search engine, I got general suggestions that did not mention dementia.
When I expanded the search to “Joe Biden has,” Google, the world’s most relied upon search engine, returned only one suggestion:
I next decided to go whole hog and enter “Joe Biden has dementia.” Google didn’t even acknowledge that anyone else has ever done this search:
What this means is that if you’re an American voter who wants to find out what most Americans think when it comes to Joe Biden, you won’t get that information using America’s most popular search engine. Google is hiding from you that people are deeply concerned about Biden’s cognitive abilities.
Google isn’t only lying about what matters to people. Google is also refusing to list articles. Breitbart has complained about Google purging its site from search results. Of course, Breitbart is a big target, which makes it easier to strike. However, Google is purging anti-Obama posts (which also means anti-Biden posts) from small sites.
In October 2019, at Bookworm Room, I wrote a post about the changes Obama had made in the Pentagon. The post had a pretty unique title: “Under Obama, there came to be a cancer in the Pentagon.” While Google will return links to other posts at my site that mention the “cancer in the Pentagon” post, it will not return the original post. What’s just as interesting is that, since the first time I’ve run this search, Google is returning a smaller number of responsive links. (See here and here.)
Scott Adams, who ran this search experiment himself, says that what Google is doing is bigger than just hiding information. It is making the topic vanish. He explains that the media dictates everything we think we know. If the media doesn’t report it, we don’t know it:
Republicans likely have an advantage over Democrats because they’re exposed to more varied news sources. Republicans will likely read the New York Times and watch Fox News. Democrats will do the former, not the latter.
It’s long past time for Congress to investigate what Google is doing with its search results. This is not a matter of free speech. It is, instead, a case of Google’s circumventing campaign financing laws by giving Joe Biden an in-kind gift — hiding anything bad from Americans looking to learn more about him or the administration in which he served — that is hugely valuable.