It’s been a bad week for Google in terms of its public perception as an apolitical search engine that does not favor certain ideas over others. Not only has the tech giant been sued by former engineer James Damore for creating a culture that penalizes conservative thought inside the company but its new fact-checking feature is being widely criticized for its nearly-exclusive tilt towards refuting conservative websites. The Daily Caller ran a powerful feature story this week outlining the blatant biases of the new fact-checking system, noting that while Google is “now displaying fact checks for conservative publications in its results, no prominent liberal site receives the same treatment.”
Probably just an oversight, eh? Oh wait, no, we forget: “Reality has a liberal bias.” In other words, the left never lies, the right always does, thus what else can you expect from a fact-checking program?
From the Daily Caller:
Not only is Google’s fact-checking highly partisan — perhaps reflecting the sentiments of its leaders — it is also blatantly wrong, asserting sites made “claims” they demonstrably never made.
When searching for a media outlet that leans right, like The Daily Caller (TheDC), Google gives users details on the sidebar, including what topics the site typically writes about, as well as a section titled “Reviewed Claims.”
Vox, and other left-wing outlets and blogs like Gizmodo, are not given the same fact-check treatment. When searching their names, a “Topics they write about” section appears, but there are no “Reviewed Claims.”
In fact, a review of mainstream outlets, as well as other outlets associated with liberal and conservative audiences, shows that only conservative sites feature the highly misleading, subjective analysis. Several conservative-leaning outlets like TheDC are “vetted,” while equally partisan sites like Vox, ThinkProgress, Slate, The Huffington Post, Daily Kos, Salon, Vice and Mother Jones are spared.
We can’t say we’re particularly surprised that Google would immediately demonstrate a bias against conservative media, but this isn’t the kind of problem we can just dismiss with a, “Well, what did you really expect?” Google and Facebook, thanks to their combined domination over the total internet user universe, must be held to a higher standard that your average company.
Yes, they have the legal right to tailor their services in any way they deem fit, but their position of influence demands of them a greater degree of responsibility. They have become the ultimate gatekeepers in the online era, and it’s on the public to keep them honest. We question the need for a built-in fact checking service in the first place, but if Google (or Facebook) is going to employ one, they need to damn well make sure it doesn’t become just another ideological tool for liberals.