Following President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump rallies in Nevada amid Supreme Court flurry: ‘We’re gonna get Brett’ Trump: ‘Good news’ that Obama is campaigning again Trump boosts Heller, hammers ‘Wacky Jacky’ opponent in Nevada MORE‘s initial travel ban, Google employees discussed ways to alter the site’s search results to counter “biased” search results and offer users ways to oppose the ban, according to internal company emails.
The Wall Street Journal reports that staffers at the company discussed ways to battle what they saw as Islamophobic and anti-immigrant bias in their platform’s search results after Trump announced the first incarnation of his controversial travel ban last year.
In the emails, employees discussed ways to alter search results to “actively counter” Google searches that produced results staffers believed to were anti-immigrant or Islamophobic. Another employee suggested a function that would connect users with organizations currently fighting the Trump administration on immigration issues.
“Overall idea: Leverage search to highlight important organizations to donate to, current news, etc. to keep people abreast of how they can help as well as the resources available for immigrations [sic] or people traveling,” that email says, according to the Journal.
Other ideas on a list of possibilities included: “Actively counter[ing] islamophobic, algorithmically biased results from search terms ‘Islam’, ‘Muslim’, ‘Iran’, etc,” as well as “actively counter[ing] prejudiced, algorithmically biased search results from search terms ‘Mexico’, ‘Hispanic’, ‘Latino’, etc.”
A spokesperson for the company says that no changes were ever implemented as a result of the discussions.
“These emails were just a brainstorm of ideas, none of which were ever implemented,” the Google spokeswoman told WSJ.
“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,” she continues.
“Our processes and policies would not have allowed for any manipulation of search results to promote political ideologies.”
Google and other tech companies have been targets for conservatives in recent months over reports of bias on their platforms, with some lawmakers and pundits claiming to have been “shadow banned,” or had their content hidden artificially, by site administrators.
The companies, including Facebook and Twitter, have denied that any bias against conservative content exists on their platforms, with Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey testifying on the issue in front of Senate and House committees earlier this month.