Google (NASDAQ: GOOGL) denied being altering search suggestions for Hillary Clinton on Friday. The response was after an accusation of changing some suggestions for the presumptive presidential candidate to hide some of the facts that could hurt her in the campaign.
The conversation started with a YouTube video from SourceFed, which claimed that Google was hiding some damaging searchers for Clinton. The team compared search suggestion from Google and its competitors, Bing, and Yahoo, and found that the last two showed suggestions for “Hillary Clinton indictment” or “Hillary Clinton crimes.”
Google on the other hand, when people started to write “Hillary Clinton ind…” or “Hillary Clinton cri…”, the suggestions were “Indiana” and “crime reform.” As this was allegedly based on search popularity, the team search in Google Trends and found that Clinton’s crimes and indictments were more searched than Hillary Clinton Indiana and crime reform.
“Google Autocomplete does not favor any candidate or cause. Claims to the contrary simply misunderstand how autocomplete works,” a spokesperson for the company stated. “Our autocomplete algorithm will not show a predicted query that is offensive or disparaging when displayed in conjunction with a person’s name. More generally, our autocomplete predictions are produced based on a number of factors including the popularity of search terms.”
As Vox pointed out, apparently Google has a policy of not suggesting that customers do searches on people’s crimes. The website gave an example of any American public figure who had been accused of committing a crime, where the words “cri” were put after the name.
— The Washington Times (@WashTimes) June 10, 2016
The results were just the same as Clinton’s. Even though people can completely do these types of searches, Google does not suggest to. The person used as an example by Vox was Bernie Madoff, who is an American fraudster and a former stockbroker, investment advisor, and financier.
Other factors involved
Even though the search engine only denied the accusations officially, Matt Cutts, who is currently on leave from his position as head of Google’s webspam team, explained through several Tweets another reason behind the lack of unwanted search results.
According to Cutts, a lot of people searching for negative content about Clinton is using only the first name without the last one. People often tend to look for just “Hillary” rather than “Hillary Clinton” when it comes to negative searchers.
— Andrea Ruano (@theandreastory) June 11, 2016
Cutts offered some screenshots as prove to what he was trying to explain. In the first one he typed “Hillary in”, and this suggested the word “indictment,” a significant difference compared to when the last name is used.
As for the second example, Cutts used the first name as well but this time, he added the letters “cri”. This times many negative connotations were starting with “criticism” and “criminal email”. In conclusion, the suggested results are available but not when the second name is used.