When you type in “Idiot” in Google search, photos of US president Donald Trump comes up and Republicans in the US Congress grilled Google CEO Sundar Pichai about this.
Republicans allege that Google’s search results are biased and that Democrats who work at Google choose liberal websites over conservative views for prime placement on Google services like Google search.
Several Republicans on the committee, including Rep. Lamar Smith, said there was “political bias baked into” Google’s culture.
Democratic Rep. Zoe Lofgren gave Google CEO a chance to explain and convince them that there’s no conservative bias in Google.
Lofgren said to Pichai:
Manipulation of search results – I think it’s important to talk about how search works. Right now, if you Google the word ‘idiot,’ under images, a picture of Donald Trump comes up. I just did that.
How would that happen? How does search work so that that would occur?
We provide search today for – anytime you type in a keyword, we as Google, we have gone out and crawled and stored copies of billions of webpages in our index. We take the keyword and match it against webpages and rank them based on over 200 signals, things like relevance, freshness, popularity, how other people are using it. And based on that, at any given time, we try to rank and find the best results for that query. Then we evaluate them with external raters to make sure, and they evaluate it to objective guidelines, and that’s how we make sure the process is working.
So it’s not some little man sitting behind the curtain figuring out what we’re going to show the user – it’s basically a compilation of what users are generating, and trying to sort through that information.
And Pichai replied:
Last year we served over 3 trillion searches. Just as a fact, every single day, 15% of the searches Google sees, we have never seen them before.
So this is working at scale. We don’t manually intervene on any particular search result.