I recently exposed Google employees’ anti-Trump bias making its way into their products, which resulted in Google quietly fixing the problem but still not facing any scrutiny or answering important questions.
Here’s what happened…
Back in February 2018 I realized that both Google’s desktop browser (Chrome) and their mobile operating system (Android) were programmed to write “president Trump” instead of “President Trump” when using their voice dictation feature. This was galling for several reasons. Foremost, at the time, as someone who has a loved one who’s blind, it bothered me because the voice dictation feature is a convenience for many of us, but a necessity for the visually impaired. And the visually impaired are the only ones who couldn’t actually see that it would say “president Trump” instead of “President Trump.” I wrote about it, commenting on both the disrespect to the President and the disrespect to the blind community…and nobody cared. I shared it with almost every conservative media heavy hitter I could think of (Breitbart, Fox News, Town Hall, Hot Air, National Review, Weekly Standard, The Federalist, The Daily Caller, The Daily Wire, Ricochet, Wall Street Journal, Newsmax)…and nobody cared.
Then in September 2018 a video was leaked that showed Google executives shortly after the 2016 election lamenting then President-elect Trump’s victory. In response to the leaked video, Google released a statement assuring the public that their employees’ anti-Trump bias never makes its way into their code.
I wrote that follow-up piece on September 13, 2018.
Less than a week after I wrote about the company’s bias (and Mollie Hemingway and the people at WhatFinger helped spread the word), Google had gone in and changed the code so the voice dictation feature now produced “President Trump” instead of “president Trump.” And during that time they also released a memo to all staff imploring them not to let their anti-Trump bias make its way into their code.
Don’t bother suggesting that the lowercase “p” was a fluke or simple oversight. I ran and documented several tests that show it was deliberate.
Also don’t bother telling me that it’s not really a big deal. To stick with the analogy I used in other pieces: If you think someone is robbing banks, and they insist that they never steal anything, and you catch them stealing gum…that matters. And that’s what happened here. We’re all concerned that the pervasive and well-documented anti-Trump bias of Google’s staff makes its way into their search results, rankings and news items to name a few. And Google insists that their employees’ anti-Trump bias never makes its way into their products. And I caught them red-handed lying about that.
But thanks to an apathetic and unduly elitist conservative media, Google never had to face any scrutiny for the bulletproof evidence I produced. Instead, they got to quietly fix it and send a memo to their team telling them to knock it off.
But outstanding questions remain and since the conservative media heavy hitters still won’t give this any time or interest, I guess I’ll just handle the “follow up questions” part of this story as well.
TO TEAM GOOGLE
I know you read my previous pieces. And we both know you dodged a huge bullet by getting to fix your partisan code, which had sat that way for 20 months until you saw my piece 10 days ago. Because had the public learned about it before you had time to fix it, then millions of Google users would’ve been at home testing it for themselves. And they would’ve been extremely disappointed when they did the test and saw that it was 100% real, just like they were after reading Mollie Hemingway’s tweet when they responded with shock in the replies.
But you still have several questions to answer.
How did you reprimand the coders responsible for the partisan coding? At best they didn’t stop to consider, at worst they thought it would be okay or even funny, to use blind people as unwitting vessels to help spread their disrespect for President Trump. How did you address this specifically with them?
How about the teams responsible for oversight and checking to make sure appropriate updates happen? How was this glaring miss addressed with them?
What did you do to preserve evidence that it was a deliberate maneuver by the coders responsible for this? There are digital fingerprints all over code, and the instruction to write “president Trump” in most but not all cases — while affording due to respect to all other Presidents — also left its own set of fingerprints. How were those preserved to further hold those employees accountable in the event that they commit similar transgressions in the future?
In light of this, why should the public believe your previous statements that your employees’ anti-Trump bias never makes its way into your products? If you missed this for 20 months, why should we believe that you aren’t missing other instances of anti-Trump bias affecting your products?
And most importantly, what specific new measures have you put in place to better police your enormously powerful and almost uniformly anti-Trump worker bees in light of these revelations?
You almost got away with getting to quietly fix the anti-Trump code after 20 months of letting it fester. It was at best irresponsible of you to try to do that without telling the public, especially just days after you expressly told us it never happens.
It wasn’t a fluke. It was a deliberate signalling of disrespect to President Trump, the office of the President, the blind people who rely on the voice dictation feature, and everybody who voted for Donald Trump. And I ran the tests that prove that.
So help us understand why we should believe that you’re not missing other instances of your uniformly anti-Trump employees embedding their hatred for President Trump, and those who voted for him, into your products. And help us understand what steps you’ve taken in light of this to make sure they never will again.
And if your politely-worded internal memo is the only action you’ve taken, that’s totally unacceptable to me and I’m guessing millions of other Google users as well.
February 2018: Politically Biased Google Exploits The Visually Impaired
September 13, 2018: Concrete Evidence Of Google Inserting Anti-Trump Bias Into Their Products
September 22, 2018: Conservative Media Let Google Off The Hook
September 22, 2018: Grassroots Trump Supporter Forces Google’s Hand
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