Thursday, 25 July 2019

Senior Google Engineer: Google Manipulates Results to Manipulate Elections

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A Project Veritas video interview with a senior Google engineer confirms what many already expected, even if they couldn’t prove it: Google and other Big Tech companies are manipulating both people and the political process.

Project Veritas became famous for its hidden-camera videos exposing Acorn advising how to run an underage prostitution operation. Those videos helped shut down Acorn. Since then, Project Veritas has exposed everything from Planned Parenthood’s illegal sale of body parts from aborted babies, to mainstream media’s deliberate creation of fake news. And while the vast majority of those videos used hidden cameras, and the people shown in the videos exposed their illegal, immoral, and unethical actions only because they did not know they were being recorded, Greg Coppola — the senior Google engineer featured in the latest Project Veritas video, agreed to an on-the-record interview.

In the interview, Coppola — who has been writing computer programs since he was 10 years old and has a Ph.D. — says that technology used to be politically neutral, but not any longer. “I think we’re just at a really important point in human history,” he said, adding, “I think for a while we had tech that was politically neutral. Now we have tech that really, first of all is taking sides in a political contest, which I think, you know, anytime you have big corporate power merging with political parties can be dangerous.” He went on to say that technology is being used to manipulate people, and added, “It’s a time to decide, you know, do we run the technology, does the technology run us?” He also asks, “Are we going to just let the biggest tech companies decide who wins every election from now on?”

He said he believes the period of politically-neutral tech lasted about 10 years, during which time “we kind of got used to the idea that the top search results at Google is probably the answer.” But that time has come and gone. The new age — the one in which people currently live — is one in which those results are filtered not by popularity of clicks or relevance, but by algorithms that sort the results according to approved political views.

He referenced the July 16 testimony of Dr. Robert Epstein before Congress, saying that Epstein “had looked into it and showed that the vast majority of people think that if something is higher rated on Google Search than another story, that it would be more important and more correct.”

But what of the Congressional testimony of Google CEO Sundar Pichai in December 2018, in which he said Google’s algorithms are politically unbiased? Coppola said, “I report to Sundar of course. And I have a great deal of respect for him as a manager,” but, “I think it’s ridiculous to say that there’s no bias. I think everyone who supports anything other than the Democrats, anyone who’s pro-Trump or in any way deviates from what CNN and the New York Times are pushing, notices how bad it is.”

Indeed.

The political bias has become so obvious that Coppola’s use of the word “ridiculous” to describe any denial of it is simply perfect. True, not all of Google’s filtering of search results is driven by politics. In June 2017, Google found itself on the wrong end of EU enforcement for manipulating search results to steer users away from competitors’ service and toward its own. That, of course is little more than an unethical — and in the EU, illegal — business practice, but it demonstrates that Google has both the capability and the predilection to provide manipulated results for searches. And in December, Google competitor DuckDuckGo released a report showing that Google mines users’ data and uses it to filter results. But even that study made reference to a previous report issued by DuckDuckGo showing that in 2012 “Google’s filter bubble may have significantly influenced the 2012 U.S. Presidential election by inserting tens of millions of more links for Obama than for Romney in the run-up to that election.” And in June, 2016, this writer reported that Google was at it again — filtering searches to benefit Hillary Clinton in her bid for the Democrat nomination.

The method Google used to manipulate those searches involved the auto-complete feature. Right at the time that Hillary Clinton was being accused of a litany of crimes, users who entered “Hillary Clinton cri” into the Google search bar were treated to suggestions for “Hillary Clinton crime reform,” “Hillary Clinton crisis,” and “Hillary Clinton crime bill 1994,” with no suggestions for “Hillary Clinton criminal charges” or “Hillary Clinton crimes,” which were the top searches on both Yahoo! and Bing, which appear to base results and suggestions on popularity and relevance.

Other similar searches returned similarly manipulated suggestions. It was so obvious that Matt Lieberman, who narrated a video published by SourceFed demonstrating the search manipulations, described the discrepancies by saying, “There’s clearly something wrong here, right? It’s like if you put three people into a room that’s on fire, and two out of the three people yell, ‘Fire!’ and the third person yells, ‘I’m in a room!’”

And while Google executives continue to tell both Congress and the public that their algorithms are not driven by a political agenda, Coppola offers a logical rebuttal, saying, “I have a PhD, I have five years’ experience at Google and I just know how algorithms are. They don’t write themselves. We write them to do what we want them to do.”

It is a basic principle of computer programming that programs are written to do what they are told to do. A program is like a recipe — a set of instructions for the computer to do certain thinks in a certain order. True, sometimes bugs in a program will cause it to behave badly, but that bad behavior is inconsistent or isolated. If a program consistently performs the same way in a variety of circumstances, it stands to reason that it was written to do just that.

Coppola seems to realize that going public with this will likely put him in a position to need to dust off his resume. He told Project Veritas:

Yeah, I mean, I have a job that pays well and has other benefits like working with very intelligent coworkers and really at the forefront of computer science. The Google Assistant is probably the most advanced artificial intelligence system anywhere in the world. Then for someone like me who’s been coding since I was a kid, it’s hard to find a job that pushes me to the limits the way working at Google does. But I guess I just look at search and I look at Google News and I see what it’s doing and I see Google executives go to Congress and say that it’s not manipulated — it’s not political. And I’m just so sure that’s not true. That it’s, you know, it becomes a lot less fun to work on the product. So it affects you that much. Yeah, definitely. I mean, the thing about Google is if you leave, you know any other salary at any other company will be lower. So I do think it’s a sacrifice.

Perhaps Coppola will make less at his next job, but at least he will have greater assurance that he isn’t part of a scheme that is manipulating people by deciding what information that have access to. And this writer hopes he can rest more easliy, knowing he has done the right thing. Because now, in addition to outside studies and anecdotal evidence, we have the testimony of a Google insider who shows that Google is manipulating people as part of a political agenda.

Image: screenshot from YouTube video

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