US President Trump took to Twitter and accused Google's search engine of promoting negative articles and hiding "fair media" coverage about him. Google has denied that its search engine has a political bias.
In a pair of early morning tweets on Tuesday, US President Donald Trump accused Google's search engine of promoting negative news articles and hiding "fair media" coverage of him. He vowed to address the situation without providing evidence or giving details of action he might take.
Trump expanded his warnings to other big internet firms in comments to reporters at the White House. "I think Google is really taking advantage of a lot of people and I think that is a very serious thing and it is a very serious charge," Trump said.
Trump's attack against the Alphabet Inc. unit comes after a string of grievances against technology companies, including social media giants Twitter Inc. and Facebook Inc.
He has accused the tech companies of silencing conservative voices. He has accused Amazon.com Inc., of hurting small businesses and benefiting from a favorable deal with the US Postal Services. He often takes news outlets to task for what he perceives as unfair coverage.
Google denied any political bias, and said in a statement that its search engine is "not used to set a political agenda and we don't bias our results toward any political ideology."
Trump said in several tweets on Tuesday that Google search results for "Trump News" were "rigged" against him because they showed only coverage from outlets like CNN and not conservative publications, suggesting the practice was illegal.
"Google, and Twitter and Facebook, they are really treading on very, very troubled territory, and they have to be careful. It's not fair to large portions of the population."
Facebook declined to comment. Twitter did not comment when asked for a response. In congressional testimony, both companies have denied engaging in partisan censorship.
TV host and right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones was recently kicked off Facebook and Youtube for alleged hate speech. US conservatives have complained their views are being silenced.
Larry Kudlow, Trump's economic adviser, told reporters later at the White House that he was "taking a look" at Google. He said the administration would do "some investigation and some analysis," without providing further details.
Earlier this summer, Joseph Simons, the new Republican chair of the Federal Trade Commission, said the agency would keep a close eye on big tech companies that dominate the internet. In a previous investigation, the FTC decided that Google was likely justified in developing a search function that harmed other companies.
Sources in Congress cautioned that it may be difficult for Trump to find a way to probe Google about news search results and added that Congress was unlikely to pass any applicable laws. The Federal Communications Commission ceded jurisdiction over regulating online communications when it repealed its net neutrality rules.
Trump's media criticism
The exact science behind Google searches on the internet is a secret. However, its basic principles are widely known to be generated with a variety of factors measured by the company's algorithms.
The factors Google uses to determine which websites appear first in search results include how often that page is linked to on other sites. Other factors include the use of keywords, the popularity and respectability of the news site, as well as the personal browsing history of the person who is conducting the search.
"We continually work to improve Google search and we never rank search results to manipulate political sentiment."
Highly trafficked and cited websites like CNN.com and NYTimes.com, two Trump's most frequent targets, often appear first in search results.
Trump's accusations come as social media companies have suspended accounts, banned certain users and removed content as they face pressure from the US Congress to police foreign propaganda and fake accounts aimed at disrupting American politics, including operations tied to Iran and Russia.
Facebook and Twitter have also been pressed to remove conspiracy driven content and hate speech.
Some Republican US lawmakers have also raised concerns about social media companies removing content from some conservatives, and have called Twitter's chief executive to testify before a House of Representatives panel on September. 5.
av/bw (AFP, Reuters, DPA)