41 Times Google Has Interfered in US Elections Since 2008

March 18th, 2024 9:26 AM

Google has been getting away with election interference for at least 16 years, and it is showing no signs of stopping.

MRC Free Speech America researchers compiled 41 times Google was caught interfering in U.S. elections, beginning in 2008, intensifying in 2016 and continuing into 2024. MRC researchers found carefully crafted studies and numerous reports (from 2008 through February 2024) that have consistently demonstrated the tech behemoth’s election meddling. 

MRC founder and President Brent Bozell highlighted just how dangerous Google’s election interference is. “Google’s massive and deliberate efforts to interfere in U.S. elections for the past 16 years is unacceptable and the biggest threat to American democracy today,” said Bozell. 

Over the years, Google has repeatedly used its power to help push the most liberal candidates to electoral victory while targeting their opponents. In 2008, the company used a light touch helping then-Senator Barack Hussein Obama (D-IL), its favored primary candidate, and undermining his opponent, then-Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY). 

But after Democrats took a devastating loss in the 2016 election, evidence collected by MRC shows that election interference became part of its mission. As one Google executive let slip in a secretly recorded interview, the company was working to actively “prevent[] the next Trump situation.”

After Donald Trump became president, the tech behemoth’s election interference went from making an appearance every four years to rearing its ugly head every two years. Each time it attempted to dismiss the issue and downplay its nefarious actions. But when viewed together as a historical whole, Google’s election interference has been consistent and has only grown more and more expansive.  

Below are some of the highlights of MRC’s findings. 

  • In 2008, Google endorsed the radical, young Sen. Obama and censored support for Sen. Clinton. Journalist Simon Owens reported at the time that the tech giant suspended the accounts of writers who wrote pro-Clinton blogs critical of Obama. “[N]early all of [the censored bloggers] had three things in common,” Owens wrote. “Most were pro-Hillary Clinton blogs, all were anti-Barack Obama, and several were listed on justsaynodeal.com, an anti-Obama website.”
  • Google allowed users to smear then-leading GOP candidate for president Rick Santorum. Google refused to correct a “Google bomb” that smeared Santorum. Google “bombing” used to be a way for users to manipulate Google’s algorithm and associate websites and names with undesirable search terms. Google Search would connect the sites and terms if enough websites placed the same hyperlink over the same term or terms. The Big Tech company previously claimed that it had ended the popular internet pranks and had even corrected the issue when it impacted the White House’s webpage for Obama. But when Santorum’s team brought the issue to Google’s attention, the platform flat-out refused to resolve it, once again favoring Obama.
  • In 2016, Google employed both its algorithm and its “partners” in futile attempts to push Clinton over the finish line. One study by SourceFed found that Google’s algorithm excluded potentially damaging autofill results for searches inquiring about Clinton’s alleged crimes and possible indictment during her scandalous tenure as Secretary of State. Google hid her flaws and instead suggested that users search for things like “Hillary Clinton crime reform” and “Hillary Clinton India” but did not do the same for other contentious searches for candidates like Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders. The platform also worked with “partners” to bolster Latino votes, in the hopes of propping up Clinton, according to internal emails uncovered by then-Fox News primetime host Tucker Carlson. A leaked email chain showed one employee explaining how Google made a “silent donation” by working with its partner Voto Latino to pay for Latino voters to get rides to the polls in “key states.” The tech giant also “helped them create ad campaigns to promote the rides.” These and similar methods of election interference and censorship likely contributed to the 2.6 million votes that Google shifted in 2016, according to data scientist and research psychologist Robert Epstein. 

Just as the election categorically changed the country's political temperature, 2016 changed things at Google. Shortly after the election, at a company-wide meeting, Google’s CFO Ruth Porat promised Google employees that the company would use its “great strength and resources and reach” to advance its leftist values. The company kept that promise, and after 2016, Google’s censorship grew in scale.

  • Researchers uncovered clear evidence of election interference in 2018. Research showed Google’s “significant pro-liberal bias” would be “enough, quite easily, to have flipped all three congressional districts in Orange County from Republican to Democrat.” Indeed, all three flipped blue. That same election cycle, Google labeled “Nazism” as one of the California GOP’s ideologies when users searched for the political party. AllSides, a firm that rates news outlets for political bias, found that just five percent of the stories that Google linked on its Google News homepage came from right-leaning media outlets. In turn, the platform pushed 15 times as much content from media outlets that AllSides identifies as left-leaning. Similarly, a search in the News tab for “Trump” displayed more than seven times as much content from media outlets that AllSides labels as left than those it deems as from the right on the first page of results. 
  • In 2020, Google picked its favored and disfavored candidates and continued its biased censorship spree. During the 2020 Democratic primary, The tech giant disabled then-presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard’s Google Ads account just as she became the most searched candidate following the first Democratic Party primary debate. “Google’s discriminatory actions against my campaign are reflective of how dangerous their complete dominance over internet search is, and how the increasing dominance of big tech companies over our public discourse threatens our core American values,” Gabbard said responding to the incident in a statement to The New York Times. The tech giant was also accused of blocking GOP fundraising emails from reaching users’ inboxes and sending out “go vote” reminders only to Democrats. These, and similar methods of election interference, likely contributed to the at least six million votes that Google shifted in 2020, according to research.
  • In 2022, Google placed its thumb on the scale by censoring candidates in key races, and it continued censoring media. An MRC Free Speech America study found that Google buried 83 percent of the Republican campaign websites for the most competitive Senate races. Ten of the 12 candidates did not make the top 6 search results and 7 did not appear on the first page of search results at all. In similar searches, MRC Free Speech America examined how Google treated 10 politicians known for criticizing Big Tech, either legislatively or vocally. Researchers found that Google buried the campaign websites of all 10 politicians and seven of them did not appear at all on the first page of the results. MRC Free Speech America analyzed searches conducted in Georgia during the 2022 Senate run-off race between Sen. Raphael Warnock (D) and Herschel Walker (R). In a very telling revelation, Google’s results favored Warnock in a swing precinct where greater proportions of undecided voters likely reside. The platform scrubbed Walker’s website from the first page of results altogether. AllSides also once again found Google News bias in 2020. The firm found that 61 percent of the stories included on the Google News homepage linked to leftist media outlets. Meanwhile, only three percent linked to right-leaning media outlets–a 20 to 1 disparity. 
  • The 2024 election cycle is upon us, and Google has already begun interfering. MRC Free Speech America found that Google buried the campaign websites for every significant opponent of incumbent President Joe Biden (RFK, Jr. plus 15 Republican candidates). When searching for “Republican presidential campaign websites,” Google returned Democrat Mariane Williamson, but not former President Donald Trump, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, businessman Vivek Ramaswamy and others.) Additionally, Google's artificial intelligence Gemini (formerly Bard) has refused to answer prompts questioning two of Biden’s biggest weaknesses: the president’s mental health and the ongoing border crisis. The chatbot instead suggested the queries were election-related, which they are. “Elections are a complex topic with fast-changing information,” Gemini claimed in response. "To make sure you have the latest and most accurate information, try Google Search.”

Given the consistent nature of Google’s election interference and censorship prowess, the Big Tech giant must be made to come to heel. MRC Free Speech America recommends that Congress, State legislatures and American citizens take action to investigate Google and begin curbing its power to interfere in American democracy.

  • Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) should direct relevant committees and committee chairmans to investigate Google for abridging people’s constitutional rights; for coordinating with government to violate freedom of speech; for interfering in elections by making unreported in-kind contributions; and for defrauding its users by failing to meet its Terms of Service. 
  • State legislatures should resolve any question of whether Google is a common carrier, which it is; and they can follow the lead of Texas and Florida to ensure that Big Tech cannot engage in viewpoint discrimination. 
  • Americans should stop using Google products, particularly Google Search and instead opt for one of the many alternatives. From our research, alternatives appear to produce better, less biased results.

You can read the full study here:

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