After the first presidential debate was widely considered a win for Clinton, Trump went back to the campaign trail with one message: He’s winning despite all odds against him.
“A new post-debate poll, the Google poll, has us leading Hillary Clinton by two points nationwide,” Trump said on Wednesday, “and that’s despite the fact that Google search engine was suppressing the bad news about Hillary Clinton. How about that.”
The Google-Clinton conspiracy theory isn’t new, and it isn’t true.
Beginning with a viral video in June 2016, the theory (or, in Trump’s words, “fact”) is that Google blocks negative autocomplete searches about Clinton while autocompleting the same searches about Trump. For instance, “Hillary cri” does not complete to “Hillary criminal,” while the search like “Donald Trump rac” yields “racist” as the completed search
Google’s Tamar Yehoshua, vice president of product management, search, responded quickly as well, explaining how the feature works:
“The autocomplete algorithm is designed to avoid completing a search for a person’s name with terms that are offensive or disparaging,” Yehoshua wrote. “It’s also important to keep in mind that Autocomplete predictions aren’t search results and don’t limit what you can search for. It’s a shortcut for those who are interested. You can still perform whatever search you want to.”
In other words, the autocomplete predictions are manipulated—but only to avoid negativity. You can still search for anything you want to.
How does this alleged bias play out today? Does Google favor one candidate over the other so that the pro-Clinton bias is as “undeniable” as the original video claimed?
Here are the autocomplete results for that Clinton search today:
Google, if you’re trying to boost Hillary, you should probably block the criminal memes.
Here’s the relevant Donald Trump search performed today:
H/T Washington Post