Google has been synonymous for online search for many years now. Many already know that the company has already had its fair share of trouble for its automatic search phrases. Some of these automatic search phrases might be amusing, but some have led users to search for things like fake news. The reason for this is because Google’s search results revolve around what other people have also searched for on the popular engine. This has led the tech giant to a move towards trying to avoid any controversy about the way autocomplete works during the upcoming Presidential election.
Google is specifically trying to eliminate what is noted as “election related predictions” because it does not want to be seen as biased towards one party or another. The company’s policy regarding this is quite succinct, stating, “We don’t allow predictions that could be interpreted as a position for or against any candidate or political party, nor which could be interpreted as claims about the participation in or integrity of the electoral process.”Read More »
Google has given out a few examples about what kinds of searches will be effected. The company will eliminate autofilling anything about donating to a specific candidate as well as terms like “you can vote by phone” and “you can’t vote by phone”.
The company will monitor any complaints that come in and work to weed out any issues that may arise with the autocompleted search function during this election cycle. Google has maintained that its trust and safety team will be diligent in enforcing their policies to avoid any cases of election bias. This may be a very time consuming task, especially if there are a large number of complaints from users. This might actually end up blocking certain search terms that don’t really fit the policy, so the company will need to keep a close eye on this initiative. In this sense, Google is taking a better safe than sorry approach to the 2020 election.
All of these actions come, of course, after numerous complaints from conservatives about the supposed bias by Google and other tech companies towards liberal candidates. For example, in a recent hearing with top tech CEO’s from Google, Facebook, Apple, and Amazon, several accusations were thrown at these leaders about political bias. Congressman Matt Gaetz directly accused Google of censoring news sites with a conservative leaning. The accusations were denied by Google CEO Sundar Pichai.
Facebook is also taking similar initiatives as Google ahead of the 2020 election. The social networking giant is clamping down on posts having to do with the election along with any political ads during the week of the election. This includes posts to try to delegitimize the election with posts that plainly tell voters information to try to get them to avoid voting for whatever reason.
Twitter has also followed suit and claims that it will get rid of tweets that say a candidate won an election prematurely as well as anything that will cause cause and confusion in the process of voting and eventual transfer of power.
Finally, Google owned YouTube has not been shy on removing videos and specific accounts ahead of November’s election either. The video sharing portal has been forced to remove numerous videos having to do with false claims about the coronavirus in an attempt to sway voters.
These kinds of actions are a necessity for 2020, especially after the vast amount of Russian interference that occurred in the previous cycle. Both Facebook and Twitter have already gotten rid of specific accounts that are traced back to Russia. The general consensus is that these accounts hoped to go after the Democratic Presidential nominee Joe Biden as well as his running mate, Kamala Harris.
Just as both tech companies and the American public learned from the 2016 election cycle, the way information is shared, searched, and read online is increasingly important. Google knows this and there will inevitably be more initiatives in the near future to combat any accusations of it being politically bias.
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