WASHINGTON — Days after the Trump administration instituted a controversial travel ban in January 2017, Google employees discussed ways they might be able to tweak the company’s search-related functions to show users how to contribute to pro-immigration organizations and contact lawmakers and government agencies, according to internal company emails.
The email traffic, reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, shows that employees proposed ways to “leverage” search functions and take steps to counter what they considered to be “islamophobic, algorithmically biased results from search terms ‘Islam,’ ‘Muslim,’ ‘Iran,’ etc.” and “prejudiced, algorithmically biased search results from search terms ‘Mexico,’ ‘Hispanic,’ ‘Latino,’ etc.”
The email chain, while sprinkled with cautionary notes about engaging in political activity, suggests employees considered ways to harness the company’s vast influence on the internet in response to the travel ban.
Google has already rigged search results for certain Islamic searches without being at all subtle about it. But the explosive thing here is that it was a response to a specific government policy.
He also mentions that “Google says that these plots never went beyond proposals,” and you can believe as much or as little of that as you want to. Personally, I haven’t used their search engine in a good while now, and haven’t missed it.