'Google reportedly runs two “blacklists,” one allowing staff to remove “fringe” websites from search results and another for filtering out opinion articles, according to conservative news outlet the Daily Caller.
The lists allow Google employees –who CEO Sundar Pichai told Congress in December never “manually intervene on any particular search result”– to suppress certain addresses in a user’s search results.
The Daily Caller claims to have seen screenshots of the lists in question. Google did not address whether its staff deliberately weed out certain political content, but did say they are working to filter out “inappropriate” search results.
The first list, titled “webanswers_url_blacklist,” lets staff block specific web addresses from popping up in Google’s ‘featured snippets’ when a user asks a question. Many of the pages blocked are op-ed articles, which a user could mistake for straight news reporting. This list appears to target opinion pieces in general, regardless of their political bent.
Another list, which the Daily Caller suggests was compiled by algorithm, blanket blacklists a host of conservative and “fringe” sites from appearing in the ‘featured snippets.’ The American Spectator, Breitbart, The Gateway Pundit and the website of Bring Your Bible to School Day are among those included. Several progressive sites, including Consortium News and a blog called Breitbart Unmasked also reportedly made the list.
We now have concrete evidence that Google is manipulating search results to hurt alternative media. This blacklist is just a partial list
We are 99% sure that @GrayzoneProject is also on a Google blacklist and is censored in search results. How many more websites are being hurt? pic.twitter.com/GpqXhJphbv
— Ben Norton (@BenjaminNorton) June 11, 2019
Read more: Google staff keep ‘blacklist’ of conservative and ‘fringe’ sites - report