Google employees considered manipulating search results to help protest Trump's travel ban

Greg Sandoval/Sundar PichaiGoogle CEO Sundar Pichai speaks with reporters at th
  • In early 2017, an undisclosed number of Google employees discussed via internal messages ways that they could manipulate search results in protest of President Trump’s travel ban, reports the Wall Street Journal.
  • They suggested surfacing links to pro-immigration organisations and ways to contact government agencies when you searched for terms like “Islam” or” “Muslim.”
  • Google told the Journal that none of the plans were implemented.

An undisclosed number of Google workers considered ways to use the company’s powerful search engine to assist in a protest against the travel ban implemented by the Trump administration in January 2017, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday evening.

The Journal said it reviewed emails that show Google employees proposed several ways to “leverage” the company’s search engine to direct users to pro-immigration organisations and contact government agencies, especially when searching for terms like “Islam” or “Muslim.”

Those Google workers involved considered the existing search results for some of those terms to be “Islamophobic,” according to the report. Late on Thursday evening, Google sent a response to the Journal’s story to Business Insider.

“These emails were just a brainstorm of ideas, none of which were ever implemented,” a Google representative wrote in a statement. “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. Our processes and policies would not have allowed for any manipulation of search results to promote political ideologies.”

The report is likely to draw even more scrutiny into whether Google uses its influential platforms to sway public opinion. The Trump administration has accused the company of using those platforms to silence politically conservative voices, as well as make him look bad.

The news also comes after Google declined to send CEO Sundar Pichai or Chairman Larry Page to testify earlier this month before a congressional committee in which Facebook and Twitter both sent top decision-makers.

Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Business Insider.

Read the full Wall Street Journal report here.

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