A former long-time Google engineer has gone on the record to accuse the tech giant of maintaining blacklists, something that Google has denied under oath.
Zachary Vorhies previously spoke to Project Veritas as an anonymous insider – attracting, among others, the attention of the US Congress, with his claims that Google trains its search algorithms to, when seen fit, manipulate reality the way Google prefers it – via “product intervention.”
Now there's a turn of phrase that George Orwell might have been equally disgusted and fascinated to have come across.
During the Project Veritas interview, he touches on a variety of subjects, including the now-infamous Google “blacklists.”
Vorhies explains that the term “product intervention” means exactly what you might think it does – Google wants to “act as gatekeepers between the user and the content that they're trying to access.”
He then speaks about “one of many Google blacklists” – this one concerning news blacklist for Google Now. The effect of this is to exclude news sites from search results performed on mobile devices.
The document that appears on-screen during the interview shows text commented out to say that the manual list “excludes sites from appearing as Google Now stories” – and then proceed to include dozens upon dozens of site URLs.
The list includes well known conservative sources like Louder With Crowder, NewsBusters, and The Gateway Pundit – and what it means to be included on the list, is exclusion from Google Search results.
To Vorhies, this is proof that Google has a clear political and ideological bias.
“If Google wants to have political bias and they want to say that got political bias – that is their right as a company. But for them to go under oath and say these blacklists don't exist – while employees like me are just able to search through the internal search engine of the company, and see that they do – is hypocritical at the least – and perjury at the worst,” Vorhies said.
As for any ways to remedy the situation – other than putting it all out on the line the way Vorhies has done – he suggested looking into Google's fiduciary responsibility to its shareholders, as far as what the company was actually doing.
When the interviewer, Project Veritas' James O'Keefe, suggested that the US Congress considers Google a platform with no editorial stance – Vorhies replied that Google is attempting to present itself as merely a platform that is not responsible for the content it hosts – including not being legally liable for any content that appears there.
But when it suits Google, Vorhies said, it will act as a publisher – one with an editorial agenda, and the power to demote news articles from other sources in its search results – and conversely, promote those news sources it likes.
In July, Google's Vice President for Government affairs and Public Policy Karan Bhatia declared under oath that the company does not use blacklists in its search results, despite these now leaked materials detailing the practice.
During a House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee hearing focused on alleged political censorship affecting Google’s search results, Bhatia made the claim in response to questioning from Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.).
“I feel like you all push the boundaries until your hand gets slapped,” Blackburn said. “Has Google ever blacklisted, or attempted to blacklist, a company, group, individual, or outlet from its advertising partners or its search results for political reasons?”
“We don’t use blacklists, whitelists to influence our search results,” Bhatia responded.