As the 2024 election approaches, concerns about Big Tech’s influence over democratic processes have surged. Recent studies suggest Google had a more significant role in the 2020 election than previously thought. Robert Epstein, director of the American Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology (AIBRT), argues that Google’s search engine manipulation steered approximately 6 million votes toward Joe Biden in the last election.
Epstein’s multi-pronged approach to assessing Google’s influence included analyzing “the manipulation of search term suggestions” and the curation of search engine results that aligned with Google’s ideological preferences.
How Google manipulates search to favor liberals and tip elections https://t.co/k2Z9TbGjzk
— Joseph Schwartz (@JJS4Tweet) September 15, 2023
According to Epstein, these manipulations “added six million votes to Joe Biden’s column in 2020,” a figure that could have tipped the electoral balance. PJ Media noted the value of Epstein’s work “confirms what is immediately obvious to anyone paying attention who searches a contentious term in Google and then searches for the same term in a non-compromised search engine like DuckDuckGo.”
Miranda Devine of the New York Post highlighted Epstein’s concerns about Google targeting younger minds earlier this year. She reported that Epstein discovered that YouTube’s “Up Next” suggestions for adults favored liberal sources 76% of the time. Shockingly, the rate escalated to 96% for children and teens. Epstein says this “shows how aggressive they are with our kids.”
The insidious nature of Google’s algorithmic influence is hard to detect. Epstein describes it as “the perfect crime,” as the manipulated search results are “ephemeral” and disappear once clicked on, making it challenging to hold the tech giant accountable. To overcome this, Epstein and his team have developed a way to capture this ephemeral data by monitoring over 7,000 registered voters across all states, with plans to expand his panel.
It’s crucial to put these findings into context. Google has long been an open supporter of liberal ideologies. Data from political donations by employees of Google, YouTube, and other subsidiaries of parent company Alphabet reveal a 94% tilt to Democrats in 2016. In light of this, Epstein’s studies add a vital dimension to the ongoing discussion about Big Tech’s influence on free and fair elections.
Google CEO Sundar Pichai’s promise to Congress that Google does “not modify any products, including Search, to promote a particular political viewpoint” sharply contrasts with these findings. Epstein believes that exposing Google’s actions is the only way to prevent such manipulation. He aims to launch a public dashboard at americasdigitalshield.org to track real-time bias on various platforms, including Google, using data from his field agents.
While Big Tech platforms like X, formerly known as Twitter, and Facebook often draw attention for their biases, Epstein’s research emphasizes that Google’s capacity to sway public opinion and influence elections may be more significant and far-reaching. As the 2024 elections loom, questions around Google’s role in shaping electoral outcomes deserve more scrutiny than ever.