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Google CEO lied to congress about search manipulation, former Google engineer says

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Mike Wacker, a former Google software engineer who was fired after speaking out against “outrage mobs,” believes that Google CEO Sundar Pichai lied when he told Congress, “We don’t manually intervene on any particular search result.”

He cites a number of events following Pichai’s appearance in Congress which appear to show that Google manually manipulates many of its search results. These events include:

Wacker argues that not only do these blacklists contradict Pichai’s statement to Congress but they’re also problematic and points to the way they’ve been used in two previous elections. He notes that:

  • During the 2018 US midterm elections, Congresswoman Maxine Waters was added to the YouTube blacklist, meaning that people who searched for her name were presented with alternative results whereas people who searched for her opponent, Omar Navarro, saw normal search results
  • During the 2018 Irish abortion referendum, multiple terms related to abortion were added to the YouTube blacklist, meaning that alternative search results for many abortion-related queries were presented to users during this referendum

Wacker concludes that based on this information, it’s clear that Pichai did not tell the truth to Congress when he said Google does not manually intervene in its search results. He believes that Pichai misled Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren during his testimony and that Pichai’s false statements obstructed Congressional oversight of Google.

While Wacker is not sure if Pichai deliberately misled Congress, he suggests that it’s likely Pichai was aware of these blacklists because the Google policy documents for one of these blacklists was approved by Senior VP Ben Gomes who reports directly to Pichai.

Wacker’s statements come in the wake of YouTube using questionable privacy complaints as the basis for removing a video exposing Google’s biased artificial intelligence (AI). Like the internal blacklists, this biased AI manipulates Google and YouTube’s search results by amplifying certain types of content while suppressing content Google doesn’t want people to see.

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