Google could rig the 2016 U.S. Presidential election, says research team

“By manipulating its search results, Google could decide the next election,” David Goldman reports for CNNMoney.

“The world’s most-used search engine is so powerful and national elections are so tight, that even a tiny tweak in Google’s secret algorithm could swing the 2016 presidential election, according to Robert Epstein, senior research psychologist at the American Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology,” Goldman reports. “Epstein said that he and a team of researchers studied behavior in undecided voters who had been exposed to rigged search results. By displaying results that shone a more favorable light on a particular candidate the researchers could shift opinion towards that favored candidate.”

“The study boosted a candidate’s favorability rating by between 37% and 63% after just one 15-minute search session,” Goldman reports. “The research suggested that swinging an election was “well within Google’s control,” considering that President Obama won the 2012 election by just 3.9% and the 2016 polling is similarly too close to call.”

Full article here.

The aforementioned Robert Epstein writes for Politico, “According to Google Trends, at this writing Donald Trump is currently trouncing all other candidates in search activity in 47 of 50 states. Could this activity push him higher in search rankings, and could higher rankings in turn bring him more support? Most definitely—depending, that is, on how Google employees choose to adjust numeric weightings in the search algorithm. Google acknowledges adjusting the algorithm 600 times a year, but the process is secret, so what effect Mr. Trump’s success will have on how he shows up in Google searches is presumably out of his hands.

“Google’s official comment on SEME research is always the same: ‘Providing relevant answers has been the cornerstone of Google’s approach to search from the very beginning. It would undermine the people’s trust in our results and company if we were to change course,'” Epstein writes. “Could any comment be more meaningless? How does providing “relevant answers” to election-related questions rule out the possibility of favoring one candidate over another in search rankings? Google’s statement seems far short of a blanket denial that it ever puts its finger on the scales.”

“Given Google’s strong ties to Democrats, there is reason to suspect that if Google or its employees intervene to favor their candidates, it will be to adjust the search algorithm to favor Hillary Clinton. In 2012, Google and its top executives donated more than $800,000 to Obama but only $37,000 to Romney. At least six top tech officials in the Obama administration, including Megan Smith, the country’s chief technology officer, are former Google employees,” Epstein writes. “According to a recent report by the Wall Street Journal, since Obama took office, Google representatives have visited the White House ten times as frequently as representatives from comparable companies—once a week, on average.”

Epstein writes, “The problem is that for all practical purposes, there is just one search engine. More than 75 percent of online search in the United States is conducted on Google, and in most other countries that proportion is 90 percent. That means that if Google’s CEO, a rogue employee or even just the search algorithm itself favors one candidate, there is no way to counteract that influence.

Read more in the full article – recommended – here.

MacDailyNews Take: This should be troubling to those who favor of free and fair elections.

When economic power became concentrated in a few hands, then political power flowed to those possessors and away from the citizens, ultimately resulting in an oligarchy or tyranny. — John Adams

The problem in this world is to avoid concentration of power – we must have a dispersion of power. — Milton Friedman

Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. — Lord Acton

Why Google is the new evil empire – April 20, 2015
Google averages one White House meeting per week during Obama administration – March 25, 2015
Google’s Eric Schmidt spurns Obama cabinet post offer – December 11, 2012
Consumer Watchdog calls for probe of Google’s inappropriate relationship with Obama administration – January 25, 2011
Obama names Apple- and Google-friendly U.S. CIO – March 5, 2009

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Lynn Weiler” for the heads up.]


  1. Now we know how Obama managed to squeak out the last election. Meanwhile in lesser, non-nationwide races, Republicans have been romping for each of the last three cycles.

    In the last cycle, the 2014 U.S. elections saw sweeping gains by the Republican Party in the Senate, House, and in numerous gubernatorial, state, and local races. The Republicans gained control of the Senate for the first time since 2006, and increased their majority in the House. The Republicans also gained two seats in governors’ races.

    Overall, the 2014 elections resulted in the largest Republican majority in the entire country in nearly a century, with 54 seats in the Senate, 247 (56.78%) in the House, 31 governorships (62%), and 68 state legislative chambers. Moreover, Republicans gained their largest majority in the House since 1928, the largest majority in Congress overall since 1928, and the largest majority of state legislatures since 1928.

    Yet, Obama somehow “won.”

    I urge you to explore Google’s, and particularly Google’s Eric Schmidt’s ties to Obama. You may be enlightened, if you do.

    1. If Google could, they would definitely rig election in favour of their pocket corporate shill, Hillary Clinton.

      Donald Trump (however controversial he is on other matters) is the only candidate that exposes this corrupt system when rich people and corporations buy politicians as their puppets. This is what eats the country: crony capitalism, which is opposite of free market.

      1. I never thought trump had any chance.

        Now that I hear more from him… I’ll take him.
        Business/money wise, no candidate on either side can walk with trump. And as bad as the economy has been.. We need the experience from the business sector, not the political machine that is Washington. (That has caused most of the problem)

          1. Politic act has no bias either…. A blatant lie by Obama was labeled as truth, then finally changed to half true. Even though it’s been proven false everywhere else.

        1. You should conduct some research on Mr Trump’s real business history. He’s been responsible for several failed & bankrupt businesses over the year, but he’s a fantastic hustler.

    2. I know you’re just a troll who posts here to raise the page hits for MDN, I urge you to look up “gerrymandering” if you want to know how the Repubs gained so many seats.

      1. As if the Dem/Lib/Progs don’t gerrymander when they’re in power.

        Don’t be a mindless pawn for your entire life.

        One of the YouTubers who interviewed President Barack Obama after the 2015 State of the Union, revealed an interesting fact about his interview: Google had some help in choosing the questions he asked the president.

        In the essay, published on Medium, Green described the process of writing the questions he and his co-interviewers, Bethany Mota and GloZell, and noted that they were all in contact with Google during the process.

        Google Helped Choose YouTubers’ Obama Questions

        1. GOD BLESS YOU, Mr. Fist!
          Always the fist post, spreading the gospel, when your opinion truly matter.
          I hope the blessed folks at MDN are paying you well!
          Keep up the good work!
          GOD BLESS YOU MDN! I would not know what to think without you!

    3. It makes you feel a lot better to imagine that someone or some organization is “stacking the deck” against you, doesn’t it Fwhatever? The “lame stream” media or Hollywood or the DOJ or the IRS, and so on. Now you are latching onto the Google explanation. Any explanation at all will do, if it serves your purposes and make you feel better. You are the lamest poititard on this forum.

      Now that your preferred group of politicians has control of both the House and the Senate, you can believe that I will be all up in your grill if they don’t start improving things, especially after being responsible for years of gridlock. I am looking forward to bludgeoning you with the failures of your party, month after month after month.

  2. The allure of Trump, same as Ross Perot before him, is that he cannot be bought.

    Plus, a lot of U.S. citizens, including immigrants who’ve achieved citizenship the right way, are for an orderly and legal immigration system, not the illegal freeforall we’re enduring now under Oblahblah.

    Why does the U.S president seek to devalue U.S. citizenship? In other countries, that’d be called treason.

  3. Google’s algorithms are a tiny and subtle effect compared to the money being poured into the election by a handful of billionaires.

    That should be enormously more troubling to those who “favor free and fair elections”.

    Elections, currently, are a pretty little reality dance show put on by the oligarchs.

      1. Ironically, Trump spoke the truth on this topic. Can’t quote his exact words from the debate, but in summary, “I’ve donated to most of the people on this stage. Of course I expect a return from my donation. I’ll phone maybe a couple of years later and….”

        What do you think the big boys expect for the donation of a billion dollars?

  4. I’m sceptical. I don’t doubt that they temporarily changed the minds of some undecided people for a short time, but that is different from having the impression stick for several weeks or a month. Long enough to get people out to vote.

    Moreover, I find it hard to imagine many people are on the fence between Clinton/Sanders and Trump/??? . Getting Democratic voters to the polls will be far more important than trying to change minds like this.

    Still, an interesting result.

    1. During the 2012 campaign, Barack Obama’s reelection team had an underappreciated asset: Google’s executive chairman, Eric Schmidt.

      Schmidt helped recruit talent, choose technology, and coach the campaign manager, Jim Messina, on the finer points of leading a large organization. “On election night he was in our boiler room in Chicago,” says David Plouffe, then a senior White House adviser.

      Schmidt had a particular affinity for a group of engineers and statisticians tucked away beneath a disco ball in a darkened corner of the office known as “the Cave.” The data analytics team, led by 30-year-old Dan Wagner, is credited with producing Obama’s surprising 5 million-vote margin of victory.

      WAKE UP!

  5. Yea, then factor in the press and the news media shaping the news ever so slightly or blatantly to black ball a contender that is not wanted.

    All they need to do is keep pushing stories of 3 or 4 repub candidates, ones that will suck, report no stories on the good ones, and then craft great stories on 1 democrat.
    That will put all the democrat votes on one person and split the repub votes among 3 or 4.

    There ya go. Simple.

    1. It won’t be difficult to find 3 or 4 Republican candidates who suck. In fact, doing the opposite is a much greater challenge.

      The rest of your post makes absolutely no sense at all. There will only be *one* Republican candidate after the RNC. The only possible vote-splitting would occur if Trump or one of the other candidates ran as an Independent like Perot did a couple of decades ago. Don’t start making crazy excuses when you have not even lost yet.

  6. Have you seen the movie “The International”? That’s the type of power Google seems to have, except they can wield their power by changing algorithms without notice, versus the assassins etc from the movie. In my mind, that’s even more terrifying, as it means it’s harder to crack down on. How could anyone stop Google? If Google felt threatened by Trumps idea of demolishing the idea of lobbyists, with google averaging around 1 White House visit per day, they could do something fishy with search results and cause him to lose the election so they can keep bribing poorer politicians.

  7. I must admit that I am truly taken back and horrified that anyone is taking Trump seriously as a potential president. The rest of the world cannot believe it either. Do we really want the biggest narcissist on the planet, who blows up at anyone who questions or criticizes him as president? I can just see him saying “I love to say “you’re fired” as he presses the button to launch nuclear strikes. True strength is not found in bluster and lashing out. Our president has to have at least some ability to control his temper and show some ability to apply diplomacy. I can just hear some saying that America needs a tough guy to recapture respect of the world – there is a difference between being tough and losing one’s temper whenever someone doesn’t treat him “with respect”. He demands respect from everyone and yet he has little respect for others – especially women, whom he seems to view as objects to be graded (see his not a 10 anymore comment regarding Heidi Klum and the fact that he owns the pageant industry). The comment regarding Heidi Klum shows that he doesn’t seem to be able to think about women more than skin deep. Funny – he criticizes a woman for aging and yet he is a bald man with arguably the worst combover in the world. He clearly does not show the qualities of someone with wisdom and depth. The fact that he has gotten so far shows what a circus the presidential election has become – the big show. America long ago surrendered to the oligarchs; the Supreme Court cemented it. If campaign finance is not fixed we will continue to get politicians that care more about keeping their jobs than doing their jobs. I cannot find any of the candidates worthy of a vote – all for different reasons. We need to demand open government (funny, they want privacy – but not for the public) – every conversation with a lobbyist should be recorded, transcribed and posted, along with any monies that go into campaign funds and any votes that change based after that happened. Sorry for the long rant – it is truly sickening to watch the great experiment of the founding fathers implode.

    1. IMHO the sheep’s clothing is full of moth holes and the vast majority of people have noticed that there is no more democracy in the USA. It’s all about the $$$$$$, especially from the corporations.

      Meanwhile, the political party the represents We The Corporations, has no one but laughable louts running for PrezeeDent. So why take any of it seriously? Vote for the biggest ass and make a mockery of the mockery.

  8. “Google ‘could’ rig the 2016 U.S. Presidential election, says research team”

    If Google can, there is little doubt that they will.

    After all, they believe they are smarter than all the rest of us and know what’s best for us.

  9. Parent companies should be illegal. Mega-corporations like Berkshire Hathaway and the new Alphabet only serve the purpose of blatantly making the ultra-greedy ultra-wealth richer.

    Berkshire Hathaway’s stock is designed to only be held by billionaires, nobody can afford that stock. Even if you’re like “no, no, it’s okay I’m a multimillionaire,” no, any amount of 207k-per-share stock of BRK-A you could barely afford will not do enough for you long term, especially with fluctuations, as it will for billionaires looking to create moderate security in their wealth.

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