Is Google attempting to change the outcome of the 2022 midterm elections with its biased algorithms?
Robert Epstein believes the answer is “yes” and claims to have proof.
Epstein, a Ph.D. from Harvard University, has quite an accomplished resume. He formerly served as editor-in-chief of Psychology Today, has published 15 books and currently serves as senior research psychologist at the American Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology.
Leading up to the midterm elections, Epstein and a team of thousands have been monitoring political content being pushed by tech companies like Google and Twitter, and in a Sunday article for the Daily Caller, Epstein revealed those findings.
Epstein’s team has recorded 1.9 million “ephemeral experiences” pushed into users’ feeds by Google in order to convince users to vote a certain way — presumably Democrat given the company’s history of bias. Epstein expects to have recorded 2.5 million of these messages by election day.
Ephemeral content is described by Epstein as “short-lived content that impacts people and then disappears, leaving no trace.”
So, via its search engine, the Google-owned video platform YouTube and other means, Google is pushing messages meant to sway voters in a biased manner that later disappears without a trace. Or rather, it would have disappeared without a trace if Epstein had not mobilized a team of “field agents” — registered voters — to record these messages on over 2,500 computers.
There are many different types of “ephemeral experiences” meant to sway opinion — about a dozen — that Epstein has identified over the course of nearly a decade. This includes bias in search results, search suggestions, voting reminders and interactions with digital personal assistants.
For example, if you look up the candidate of one party, only favorable articles, videos and other results are pushed to the top. Additionally, what Epstein describes as “carefully crafted search suggestions” flash on Google’s search bar when a user begins to enter a term.
According to Epstein, these messages “can shift voting preferences of undecided voters by up to 80 percent in some demographic groups after a single search.”
Reminders to vote were sent more often to liberal voters than to conservatives, and question-and-answer interactions with digital personal assistants manage to “shift the voting preferences of undecided voters” by 40 percent or more, Epstein’s team found.
The psychologist’s team collected and recorded 1.5 million ephemeral experiences of this nature in the lead-up to the 2020 election. They believe these manipulations may have shifted as many as six million votes in favor of Joe Biden.
In 2022, his team found similar results.
“In swing states, and especially in Wisconsin, Arizona and Florida, we are finding a high level of liberal bias in Google search results, but not in search results on Bing (the same pattern we have found in every election since 2016),” Epstein wrote.
“In several swing states, 92 percent of the autoplay videos being fed to YouTube users are coming from liberal news sources (YouTube is owned by Google). Unless Google backs down, it will shift hundreds of thousands of votes on Election Day itself with those brazen targeted go-vote reminders — and we will catch them doing so.”
It shouldn’t come as a shock that Google would find itself ensconced in such controversy. Leaked emails leading up to prior elections have shown the company’s willingness to use biased algorithms to push the subjective values of Google employees and administrators.
Leaked emails obtained by The Wall Street Journal in 2018 revealed that Google employees were discussing different methods they could use to “leverage” search functions in order to combat then-President Trump’s travel ban.
At the time, Google claimed none of the ideas were implemented.
Epstein does believe there is hope on the horizon, however.
According to him, just prior to the 2020 election, his company went public with their findings, prompting three U.S. senators — Ron Johnson, Mike Lee and Ted Cruz — to send Google CEO Sundar Pichai a letter threatening investigation.
After the letter was sent, Epstein’s team found that Google manipulations in the Georgia Senate race dropped to zero. This is because, according to one Google whistleblower, the company can turn biased algorithms off and back on again “like flipping a light switch.”
Epstein hopes, going forward, his team can serve as an accountability shield, preventing Google and other tech companies from engaging in partisan antics.
“[T]his time, we will continue to expand the monitoring system, and we will be monitoring content going not just to voters but also to America’s children. By late 2023, we will have a digital shield in place — a panel of more than 20,000 field agents in all 50 states — and we will shame Big Tech into staying clear of our elections and our kids for many years to come,” he wrote.
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