I’ve been looking at this since 2012, because the potential was there and particularly because there was so much technology in play. The analysis that Romney did had far different results than the same analysis from Obama, and the results—coupled with the seeming protection by that administration of Google—made it look like some kind of unusual deal was struck.
It is all circumstantial and Romney’s team did obviously screw up on execution, but this week I got a note from David Schlesinger on Facebook pointing out how Google’s representation of the fight between Clinton and Sanders was massively skewed toward Clinton, making it look like her lead was insurmountable when actually the race is far closer. This same comparison has been picked up by the media over the DNC’s objections. Yes even the Democratic Party agrees that this representation is wrong.
In addition, there was a secret meeting by some of these same folks to put together a comprehensive plan against Donald Trump, given his camp was largely backed by massive increased visibility and most believe he can’t beat Clinton. In contrast to the stated goal of eliminating him, you have to wonder if Google is attempting to pick the next President for us.
Google Fixing Elections
Back in 2012 I wrote about some troubling observations where it appeared search results were being manipulated to favor Obama over Romney. The Huffington Post picked this up and carried it farther in a piece by Erick Clemons, Professor of Operations and Information Management at The Wharton School. He, along with his co-author Josh Wilson, looked at legal cases where Google was not only admitting to this behavior—Google felt it was its constitutional right to exhibit it. Google wasn’t providing search results, it was providing some kind of entertainment service and was free to alter the results as it saw fit. The authors flagged this as incredibly dangerous and indicated it could effectively put the US government under Google’s control. It reflects on our freedoms because it effectively puts Google in control of us.
More recently a study was published by the American Institute for Behavior Research and Technology showcasing this theory and finding it valid. There is a very real concern that Google could basically own the US Government. This study was used as a foundation for a piece in Politico which further emphasized this concern, and in Aeon where they take it as a stepping stone for mind control. Yep, actual mind control. The Aeon piece is as fascinating as it is scary, because it pulls heavily from science fiction works from the 1920s forward which predicted this exact result.
So there is a substantial foundation for Google being able to fix elections, but is there a smoking gun? Maybe.
Google For Clinton
So what David was pointing out to me was that if you look at the delegate count for Clinton vs. Sanders it looks like Clinton can’t be beat but that is because the media is apparently using Google’s charts—which add the super delegates to the delegates that were actually won. But, as the Huffington Post reported, this is very misleading because the super delegates aren’t even allowed to vote in the first round which means they really don’t count yet, while the chart makes it look like they have equal standing to the regular delegates. By showcasing them this way, it makes it look like Clinton has the election tied up when, in actual fact, the two candidates are nearly tied.
If you don’t feel your candidate has a chance you are less likely to vote than if you think they are nearly tied for the race. So this approach from Google appears designed to assure Clinton wins even though she may not actually have the votes to do so. Further, coverage by the Huff Post here suggests that not only is Sanders in far better shape, he actually does better against Trump as well.
Wrapping Up: The United States Of Google
I think it is incredibly scary for any company to have this much control over the political process and the idea of Google controlling the government is particularly repulsive. The right to at least try to choose our representation is one of the fundamental parts of being a citizen. However, given how poorly we have done this in the past I can see why some might think a corporation can do it better.
Something to think about over the weekend, but do you think it would be good or bad if Google picked our next President?