Google CEO denies any bias in the company

Daily News Article - December 12, 2018


1. What allegations about Google were being questioned during a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Tuesday?

2. What concern did Republican Bob Goodlatte express?

3. What concerning fact did Democratic Rep. Zoe Lofgren question Mr. Pichai about?
b) How did Mr. Pichai respond?

4. What did a recent Pew poll reveal about Americans’ view of social media companies?

5. It was reported in September:
“Google has secretly built a prototype of a censored search engine for China that links users’ searches to their personal phone numbers, thus making it easier for the Communist government in China to monitor people’s searches.”
a) How did Google CEO Pichai respond to Congress members’ queries about this?
b) Google co-founder Sergey Brin claims to be a refugee from the Communist Soviet Union. How would you describe his considering providing a censored search engine to China?

6. Addressing concerns over Google’s bias, Mr. Pichai told the House committee:

"I lead this company without political bias and work to ensure that our products continue to operate that way. To do otherwise would go against our core principles and our business interests. We are a company that provides platforms for diverse perspectives and opinions – and we have no shortage of them among our own employees."

Watch the video clip from an hour-long Google meeting recorded shortly after the 2016 presidential election, which was leaked to Breitbart News in September 2018. Excerpted from the Breitbart article:

The video of the Google meeting following the 2016 election reveals an atmosphere of dismay amongst the tech giant’s leadership, coupled with a determination to thwart both the Trump agenda and the broader populist movement emerging around the globe (including opposition to Brexit).

These individuals, who preside over a company with unrivaled influence over the flow of information, can be seen disparaging the motivations of Trump voters and plotting ways to use their vast resources to thwart the Trump agenda.

Co-founder Sergey Brin can be heard comparing Trump supporters to fascists and extremists. Brin argues that like other extremists, Trump voters were motivated by “boredom,” which he says in the past led to fascism and communism.

The Google co-founder then asks his company to consider what it can do to ensure a “better quality of governance and decision-making.”

VP for Global Affairs Kent Walker argues that supporters of populist causes like the Trump campaign are motivated by “fear, xenophobia, hatred, and a desire for answers that may or may not be there.”

(This follows an earlier September 2018 article that reported how Google tried to boost turnout among the Latino population to help Hillary Clinton, only to be dismayed as the usually solid Democratic voting bloc switched to the GOP in record numbers.)

Following the release of the video, Google said in a statement:

“Nothing was said at that meeting, or any other meeting, to suggest that any political bias ever influences the way we build or operate our products. To the contrary, our products are built for everyone, and we design them with extraordinary care to be a trustworthy source of information for everyone, without regard to political viewpoint.”

What do you think? Many/most Google employees are politically liberal. Should all Google users be concerned that Google (and other social media) have/will try to manipulate the data/information/posts users see? Explain your answer.