In his latest attack on 'fake news' Trump has hit out at the digital giants, claiming their search results are biased against him.

By Daniel Herborn

Posted on August 29, 2018

“Google search results for “Trump News” shows only the viewing/reporting of Fake News Media,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “In other words, they have it RIGGED, for me & others, so that almost all stories & news is BAD. Fake CNN is prominent. Republican/Conservative & Fair Media is shut out. Illegal?”

In a second tweet, Trump continued his tirade, writing “Google & others are suppressing voices of Conservatives and hiding information and news that is good.”

Last week, Trump had tweeted that said social media was “totally discriminating against Republican/Conservative voices” and threatened that he would “not let that happen”.

Trump has claimed social media platforms and search engines are biased against him

Trump later broadened his attack to include Twitter and Facebook, telling reporters at the White House “We have tremendous, we have literally thousands and thousands of complaints coming in. And you just can’t do that.”

“And so I think that Google and Twitter and Facebook, they are really treading on very, very troubled territory and they have to be careful.”

Trump did not provide any support for these claims of bias. It is not clear what exactly these complaints were about or what action his administration could take against Google or social media platforms given the protection the First Amendment provides for free speech.

Trump’s claim that 96% of results were from left-wing media outlets was apparently based on a PJ Media article by Paula Bolyard that used conservative journalist Sharyl Atkinson’s media bias chart. CNN analyst Chris Cillizza said the chart is hardly an objective categorisation of journalistic quality and integrity.

Further, the chart listed literally every mainstream media outlet as left-wing while conspiracy media like Alex Jones’ Infowars was listed as a centre-right publication. Jones is infamous for repeatedly claiming that the Sandy Hook mass shooting did not happen, claims that saw victims have to flee after threats of violence and harassment.

Google responds to Trump’s attacks

Through its spokesperson Riva Sciuto, Google denied using any political agenda to shape its search results. “When users type queries into the Google Search bar, our goal is to make sure they receive the most relevant answers in a matter of seconds,” Scuito said.

“Search is not used to set a political agenda and we don’t bias our results toward any political ideology.

“We continually work to improve Google search and we never rank search results to manipulate political sentiment.”

Eric Goldman, a law professor at Santa Clara University, told Vox there was no evidence for Trump’s claim Google is politically biased. He said the tweets were “consistent with his standard misdirection tactic of creating a fake crisis and portraying himself as the savior.”

Yonatan Zunger, a Google Engineer, said Trump’s claims were nonsense. “Users can verify that his claim is specious by simply reading a wide range of news sources themselves,” he said. “The ‘bias’ is that the news is all bad for him, for which he has only himself to blame.”

Veteran broadcaster Dan Rather said Trump’s threat to Google was a continuation of his attacks on the press. “It’s about undercutting truth, muddying facts and dismissing accountability. This from a man who readily lies with a political party as willing accomplices. His minions may cheer but American democracy is weakened.”