The Google News algorithm is programmed to lean left

Hillary Clinton GoogleThe headline of this article makes it clear that I’m either a conspiracy theorist or right-wing nut job. Or both. The reality is that I’m a data guy tasked with analyzing trends and finding holes with algorithms like the one used to serve content through Google News and I’m certain that the game is rigged towards the left.

Do I lean right? Absolutely. If I didn’t, I probably wouldn’t be exposing this information. Am I conspiracy theorist? Let’s just say that I believe there are conspiracies. I don’t believe Elvis is alive or that the government is run by lizard people. On the other hand, I was called a wacko when I said that the NSA was collecting digital data from citizens and leaders around the world, including domestically. That was a year before Edward Snowden confirmed it.

This isn’t nearly at the same scale as NSA spying, but I find it’s harder to convince people that Google has a political agenda. Like most, I believe that they did not have this agenda when they formed this company and I believe they fought against taking on an agenda in the early days of their success when they realized that they truly could manipulate the way that people think, but over time it became clear that they would have to start picking sides at some point, so they picked their own.

Despite the misconception that the Republican party is the party that favors big business and despite the fact that Google is a leading member of the unofficial “Big Business Coalition” in the tech world, they are greatly favored by having a Democrat in the White House. Their goals in business and in cultural improvements are aligned with the Democratic party, or more accurately, the Democratic party allows Google to operate more aggressively.

With all of that understood, let’s go back to the data. I wish I were the person who first noticed it but it was actually two colleagues who made me aware. The first was a work colleague who pointed out the way that news was being delivered during and after Hillary Clinton’s congressional hearing about Benghazi and her emails. The stories that were most favorable to her and detrimental to the committee questioning her rose to the top. In fact, there were conspicuous omissions of several of the more “damning” pieces of information that came to light such as the emails sent to her daughter.

The next day, Google News all but declared that it was a great day for Clinton. Reading through news sources, even mainstream media sources that are supposed to be unbiased, one could easily come to the conclusion that pro-Clinton stories were included and anything pointing out negatives were excluded. We know that there is very little human interaction with what Google News posts, so it had to be algorithmic. This particular colleague happens to be a Clinton supporter, so when I went back to him for screenshots or histories, he declined with a grin.

The second piece of information came from a colleague on this website. While looking into multiple news aggregators, he noted that “It’s as if the algorithm has been replaced by someone on the Clinton campaign staff.”

I finally got around today to see what Google news had to say about a pair of frontrunners – Clinton and GOP candidate Ben Carson. I went “incognito” with my browser to ensure that my history would not influence the results. I then checked the stories and confirmed whether the sources were left, neutral, or right. The results confirmed what I had been seeing for the last couple of weeks.

Bias Clinton

Bias Carson

One might think that the publications that were on the left would be more prominent in reporting about Clinton while the ones on the right would be more prominent reporting about Carson but the exact opposite was true. Moreover, the story selection even from neutral sources was generally positive for Clinton and negative for Carson.

As fate would have it, the “top story” today on Google News happened to be election-related. It’s a little odd that this would be the top story rather than its normal spot on US News, but there it was. As you can see, the stories listed are generally negative, not just about the subject of Jeb Bush but also across other GOP candidates.

Bias News

“Republicans must hate the middle class…” That’s one of the “top stories” today? As a conservative, I’m annoyed. As a data guy, I’m insulted. As an American, I’m upset.

There is no question about Google’s allegiance. The only real question is whether Google is in the Democrats’ pocket or if the Democrats are in Google’s pocket.

Jesseb Shiloh

+Jesseb Shiloh is not-so-new to blogging. He enjoys things that most don't and doesn't mind and occasional nap. Find him on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.