This recent SourceFeed video about Google supposedly suppressing information about Hillary Clinton in searches is the worst form of “journalism”. The problem in drawing this Hillary Clinton-Google connection is that has been no manner of study at all, beyond cherry picking a few results and trying to make a case based on what you want to believe, rather than what is.
Point 1: By Nature, Bing and Yahoo Will Sometimes Provide Different Search Results than Google
All search engines use their own proprietary algorithms to generate search results. So, what you see on Google will not always be the same SERP that you would get on another engine. One of the reasons Google has seen so much success over the years is
Point 2: SERPs and AutoSuggest Are Not the Same Thing
The video posits that autosuggest results and the actual search page results (SERPs) are the same thing. In fact, autosuggest runs off of a completely different algorithm from SERPs. In fact, this piece from Search Engine Land posits that Google is intentionally filtering suggestions that may be harmful to businesses or persons, noting “Here’s a case that illustrates the balancing act. Last year, a skydiving company contacted me, concerned that searches for its name brought up a suggestion of its name plus the words ‘death’ or ‘accident.’ Yes, the company had someone who died in a jump. That’s something harmful to the company, even if true.”
If the “journalists” at SourceFeed had hit the enter button on their queries, they would have seen SERPs that do address Clinton’s issues, as you see below when I typed “Hillary Clinton crim” – try if yourself if you don’t believe me. Wouldn’t Google scrub the SERPs as well? They certainly have the ability to.
Also, the story clearly made a few attempts, cherry-picked results, and then declined to look at many other avenues. For example, when I type in “Hillary Clinton ema”, my second result is “Hillary Clinton Email Charges.” Why would Google leave that out of the “suppression list”?
Point 3: I Can Repeat the Results of the “Study” using Bill Cosby or Donald Trump
Like it or not, most of us think rape right now when we think of Bill Cosby, right? I type “Bill Cosby rap” into Google and autosuggest gives me these results:
Meanwhile, here’s what I get on Bing:
I see quite a few rape results in there. Is Google suppressing information on Cosby too? I can clearly see in Google trends that more people nowadays are searching for “Bill Cosby rape” as opposed to “Bill Cosby Rap”.
Maybe I’ll type in “Bill Cosby ind” to see if he’s been indicted on those rape charges.
Hmmm…nothing there. I’ll try Bing.
Well, well, looks like the fix is in for Mr. Cosby at Google. Maybe I’ll try Donald Trump. If Google is protecting Hillary, they must be letting Trump negatives fly, right? Maybe I can learn about his bankruptcy by typing “trump ban”.
Nothing, eh? What does Bing say?
Well, I guess Google is protecting Hillary, Cosby and Trump. The bottom line is that you can start to see a pattern of Google filtering out almost all accusatory results from all public figures. In the video, they note that “Bernie Sanders Socialist” comes up in autosuggest. What they don’t note is that Bernie Sanders is a self-identified Democratic Socialist. Cosby is not a self identified rapist, Hillary Clinton is not a self-identified criminal (and has not been indicted), and Donald Trump is not bankrupt; therefore these would be accusatory terms.
This Hillary-Clinton-Google connection cherry-picks anecdotal evidence to make a case that is not there. Don’t believe the hype.