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Google discussed promoting pro-immigration search results

Google employees last year considered displaying pro-immigration information when people searched terms rela...

Posted: Sep 21, 2018 2:25 PM
Updated: Sep 21, 2018 2:25 PM

Google employees last year considered displaying pro-immigration information when people searched terms related to the Trump administration's controversial travel ban.

In emails obtained by The Wall Street Journal, employees suggested ways to show different results for "Islam," "Muslim," terms related to "Mexico," "HIspanic" and "Latino," and terms that the search algorithm deemed prejudiced or Islamophobic.

Employees wanted to respond to the Trump administration's January 27, 2017, executive order banning entry for 90 days by citizens from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen. The order also indefinitely halted refugees from Syria. The order sparked mass protests and legal challenges. The Supreme Court ultimately upheld a revised version of the order in June 2018.

"These emails were just a brainstorm of ideas, none of which were ever implemented," a Google spokesman told CNN in a statement. "Google has never manipulated its search results or modified any of its products to promote a particular political ideology — not in the current campaign season, not during the 2016 election, and not in the aftermath of President Trump's executive order on immigration."

Google has promoted or downplayed certain perspectives in its search results in the past. For example, in December 2016, it surfaced Holocaust denial websites much lower in the results when users searched whether the event happened. It has also advocated net neutrality and changed results for hate speech.

President Donald Trump and other conservative lawmakers have recently claimed Big Tech companies, including Google, Facebook and Twitter, are prejudiced against their viewpoints. Last week, an hourlong video was leaked of top Google brass being very angry a day after Trump won the 2016 US presidential election.

Google has fought back, claiming it does not change its search results for political purposes.

"Our processes and policies would not have allowed for any manipulation of search results to promote political ideologies," the spokesperson said.

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