After Trump travel ban, Google employees debated adjusting search results

After Trump travel ban, Google employees debated adjusting search results
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Following President TrumpDonald John TrumpKimberly Guilfoyle reports being asymptomatic and 'feeling really pretty good' after COVID-19 diagnosis Biden says he will rejoin WHO on his first day in office Lincoln Project offers list of GOP senators who 'protect' Trump in new ad MORE's initial travel ban, Google employees discussed ways to alter the site's search results to counter “biased” results and offer users ways to oppose the ban, according to internal company emails.

The Wall Street Journal reports that staffers at the company discussed ways to battle what they saw as Islamophobic and anti-immigrant bias in their platform's search results after Trump announced the first incarnation of his controversial travel ban last year.


In the emails, employees discussed ways to alter search results to "actively counter" Google searches that produced results staffers believed were anti-immigrant or Islamophobic. Another employee suggested a function that would connect users with organizations currently fighting the Trump administration on immigration issues.

“Overall idea: Leverage search to highlight important organizations to donate to, current news, etc. to keep people abreast of how they can help as well as the resources available for immigrations [sic] or people traveling,” that email says, according to the Journal.

Other ideas on a list of possibilities included: “Actively counter[ing] islamophobic, algorithmically biased results from search terms ‘Islam’, ‘Muslim’, ‘Iran’, etc," as well as “actively counter[ing] prejudiced, algorithmically biased search results from search terms ‘Mexico’, ‘Hispanic’, ‘Latino’, etc.”

A spokeswoman for the company says no changes were ever made as a result of the discussions.

"These emails were just a brainstorm of ideas, none of which were ever implemented,” the Google spokeswoman told WSJ.

“Google has never manipulated its search results or modified any of its products to promote a particular political ideology — not in the current campaign season, not during the 2016 election, and not in the aftermath of President Trump’s executive order on immigration," she continues.

"Our processes and policies would not have allowed for any manipulation of search results to promote political ideologies.”

Google and other tech companies have been targets for conservatives in recent months over reports of bias on their platforms, with some lawmakers and pundits claiming to have been "shadow banned," or had their content hidden artificially, by site administrators.

The companies, including Facebook and Twitter, have denied that any bias against conservative content exists on their platforms, with Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey testifying on the issue in front of Senate and House committees earlier this month.