2017 CONGRESSIONAL REPORT ON VOTER FRAUD

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2017 CONGRESSIONAL REPORT PRESENTED TO:

Vice President Mike Pence

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach

The American Public

and the U.S. Commission on Voter Fraud

 

(Sections from the 620 Page Report)

Overview

Voter fraud and voter intimidation/manipulation using psychological tricks played on voters by search engine and electronic news empires are assaults on our democracy.

The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, and thousands of human rights groups, have found that abusive practices by some large search engine and media owners do constitute a violation of the rights of individuals and the due process of democracy by allowing a small group of powerful and biased election beneficiaries to control, defraud or manipulate a majority of the voting populace by defrauding those voters and the democratic system.

Where federal officials have urged paper audits and electronic security for voting machines, as well as more accurate, up-to-date registration lists, no such tracking is applied to those small few who control the majority of the news about the elections that those voting machines are used for.

On the issue of voter identification cards, it has been pointed out that many other advanced democracies use voter identification cards, and in a country where over 50 million people move annually, some form of identification is needed. Some form of similar identification is also needed for the writers of Google, Gizmodo/Univision and Facebook who control which way an election will turn. These “shills” are compensated by Google, Gizmodo/Univision and Facebook to “spin” election results so they must be accounted for as much as the voters who vote in these elections.

There exists now a major confidence problem in our nation’s elections because companies like Google, Gizmodo/Univision and Facebook so overtly manipulate voter impressions without oversight or comeuppance.

Our team has specific, and witnessed, experience in the tactics, technologies, psychological warfare and voter impression defrauding, and manipulation, used by Google, Gizmodo/Univision, Facebook and other outlets to rig elections.

In addressing possible solutions to voter fraud and voter intimidation, it has been urged that state election officials fund efforts to ensure that every eligible, registered voter have his or her name appear properly on the voter roll. In like kind, every shill writer at Google, Gizmodo/Univision, Facebook should appear on news reporting rolls.

On the issue of voter identification, it has been argued that there is strong public support for some form of government-issued identification, but it has been urged that steps be taken to ensure that such identification is made available to the indigent. In fact, it is sometimes indigent writers working under the direction of Google, Gizmodo/Univision, Facebook and other biased entities who secretly produce the fraudulent news at these companies and they must be disclosed by name.

While there are barriers to voter participation, such as barriers ranging from difficulties finding information on how to register, to more insidious barriers such as the spreading of misinformation regarding the day of an election or a particular voter’s eligibility to vote, many of these barriers are promoted by Google, Gizmodo/Univision, Facebook and their peers in order to manipulate elections.

The DNC chair has stressed the importance of accurate registration lists, and stated that requirements of proof of eligibility to vote should not be imposed in a manner that would erect additional barriers to voting. These same kinds of barriers exist in the digital media for the blockading of voters digital opinions on Google, Gizmodo/Univision, Facebook and their peers. Recently, only the opinions of those that mirror the opinions of the owners of Google, Gizmodo/Univision, Facebook and their peers were allowed to have fair digital media exposure. Accurate employee registration lists, and requirements of proof of eligibility to publish on Google, Gizmodo/Univision, Facebook and their peers as a “media shill” should be required of those companies.

WordPress is a DNC-backed news publishing service which has been terminating the websites of those who publish GOP-oriented news. More members of the public acquire their news from WordPress sites than they do from all of CNN. WordPress controls over 30% of the internet. Is it not “voter fraud” when a huge company, with monopolistic scope, censors the news in order to favor the bank accounts and ideologies of it’s owners after soliciting voters to use its services? WordPress defrauds voters by marketing themselves as an “open public platform for all views”, yet cuts off those who get too much attention for views that conflict with WordPress bosses. Is that not defrauding the public for election manipulation?

Many public officials have stated that “the United States’ election system is haphazard and sloppy.” They have remarked that other countries have more secure election systems than ours, and stated that only 25 states require some form of documentation in order to vote. They note that approximately 80 percent of those surveyed support the requirement of a photo-ID in order to vote, and remarked that this included two-thirds of African-Americans, Democrats, and Hispanics. The digital media news conditions are even more dire. Nobody knows who these millions of people on Google, Gizmodo/Univision, Facebook and their peers are that are rote-expounding a certain ideology. The FBI and Cyber-Security resources have now suggested that most of them are Russian, Chinese or Ukrainian mobster shill services.

Why are huge digital media monopolies like Google, Gizmodo/Univision, Facebook not required to identify their news shills? Overwhelming evidence indicates that those shills may be armies of foreign entities who Google, Gizmodo/Univision, Facebook knowingly allow on their networks because they support their owners ideologies

Issues that must be discussed include:

  • If the imposition of a national photo identification standard for Google, Gizmodo/Univision, Facebook reporters raises any 14th Amendment concerns

  • The problems associated with certain groups, such as Native Americans, that may tend not to carry official identification

  • Concerns relating to the training of media monitors, and the difficulty in obtaining workers with both the time and the technological savvy to serve, and providing adequate training to those media monitor workers

  • The need to make Google, Gizmodo/Univision, Facebook legally liable and financially responsible for election fraud

  • Problems inherent in the use of electronic news. Based on the record, the past Commissions find, among other things, that real and perceived flaws in the election system have resulted in concern and mistrust in the voting process in the United States

  • Both voter fraud and voter intimidation/manipulation disenfranchise voters and weaken our political system

  • Achieving an accurate voter roll is a key step in assuring accurate elections with full participation. Achieving accurate digital media election news is a key step in assuring accurate elections with full participation

  • Expanded absentee voting, same-day registration, voting exclusively by mail, and the fact that large numbers of Americans relocate each year all pose difficulties in verifying voter and Google, Gizmodo/Univision, Facebook shill reporter identity.

  • Previously, Federal officials have recommended, among other things, that State and local governments must undertake efforts to improve and expand training of poll workers but that has not been effectively implemented to monitor for digital media manipulation by Google, Gizmodo/Univision, Facebook shill reporters

  • States should strengthen public confidence that votes will be counted accurately by ensuring that all voting machines are certified accurate and tamper-proof, and by creating a physical record of votes and employing a voter-verified paper audit trail. The same should apply to those who are shill reporters on Google, Gizmodo/Univision, Facebook and their monopolistic peers.

  • In order to enhance ballot integrity without raising barriers to voting, states should adopt aphoto identification requirement for both registration, voting and shill reporters operating on Google, Gizmodo/Univision, Facebook and their monopolistic peers. This requirement should be coupled with outreach to register qualified voters and writers and the provision of identification cards at no cost to the indigent.

  • Those without photo identification should be permitted to vote by provisional ballot and shill report on Google, Gizmodo/Univision, Facebook and their peers with corporate guarantees to the U.S. Government by Google, Gizmodo/Univision, Facebook and their peers.

  • Absentee ballots pose special challenges; accordingly, states should adopt a requirement that voters’ signatures on the absentee ballot be matched with a digitalized version of the signatures maintained by election officials. Absentee shill reporters at Google, Gizmodo/Univision, Facebook and their peers pose even greater special challenges because they affect hundreds of millions of voters; accordingly, states should adopt a requirement that writers’ signatures on the shill registration forms be matched with a digitalized version of the signatures maintained by election officials.

  • It is proposed that federal law require that each member of the public receive an equal voice on the internet and FBI protection from attacks, cyber-bullying and corporate-coordinated shill storm attacks

Google, Gizmodo/Univision, Facebook and other outlets, use psychological tricks to addict voters, weaken their resolve and defraud their perceptions

Silicon Valley Salesmen sold the Obama/Clinton Staffs that “Silicon Valley Controlled the Web!” and that they “…Could manipulate public impressions”. They only control the outside edges of the U.S., it turned out, though. This cost Clinton the election because she bought into their hype. Google, Gizmodo/Univision, Facebook and their Media Cartel have the same coverage as the blue areas on the following map. This is also the exact same map of Trump’s public dominance in that election. Silicon Valley lives in a bubble centered around themselves and only reasonates with youthful hipsters who are easily swayed, impressionable and naive. The CIA claims to be able to brainwash any person in a cell within 2 weeks and on a social network within 2 days. It is unconscionable that Silicon Valley companies be allowed to use defense-level technologies to manipulate and defraud innocent and unaware voters:

The issue of digital voter fraud has little do do with ballot paper and more to do with neurons.

For example:

Facebook ‘as addictive as nicotine and chocolate’ – with the LOGO enough to set off cravings

A study of 200 people showed that the Facebook logo sparked irresistible ‘pleasure cravings’ in frequent users of the social media site

By Chloe Mayer

SOCIAL media is as addictive as chocs and fags — and just seeing Facebook’s logo makes the worst affected crave a fix.

Just spotting the blue “f” can be enough to set off “spontaneous pleasure cravings”, new research has revealed.

Social media

Getty Images

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This makes it almost impossible to resist logging on and can, in turn, can trigger disturbing feelings of guilt.

For frequent Facebook users, just seeing the logo is enough to get them logging in for their fix.

Dr Guido van Koningsbruggen said: “Failures to resist social media temptations may eventually negatively affect well-being.”

Social media

Getty Images

The findings, the latest to reveal the depth of social media addiction, come from a study of 200 people shown a series of pictures.

Frequent Facebook users were more positive about the images after seeing the “f” logo. Less regular users were unaffected.

A follow-up experiment gauged participants’ desire to use Facebook. There was a direct link between the level of craving and the reaction to the logo.

Facebook

Getty Images

4

The doc, from Amsterdam’s Vrije University, said: “Exposure to social media cues triggers spontaneous pleasure reactions in frequent social media users.”

Cyberpsychology expert Dr Brenda Wiederhold added: “Understanding psychological and physiological reactions to social media cues can help us develop effective treatment.”

What this means is that a political logo or a politicians face can be manipulated by Facebook to embed itself in the minds of hundreds of millions of people in order to make voters “addicted to it” just like a drunk is addicted to whisky.

Large Google Manipulation: How the search engine brings Clinton millions of votes

Research Proves Google Manipulates Millions to Favor Clinton

© Photo: Youtube/SourceFed

In this exclusive report, distinguished research psychologist Robert Epstein explains the new study and reviews evidence that Google’s search suggestions are biased in favor of Hillary Clinton. He estimates that biased search suggestions might be able to shift as many as 3 million votes in the upcoming presidential election in the US.

© AFP 2017/

To test Lieberman’s claim that Google’s search suggestions are biased in Mrs. Clinton’s favor, my associates and I have been looking at the suggestions Google shows us in response to hundreds of different election-related search terms. To minimize the possibility that those suggestions were customized for us as individuals (based on the massive personal profiles Google has assembled for virtually all Americans), we have conducted our searches through proxy servers — even through the Tor network — thus making it difficult for Google to identify us. We also cleared the fingerprints Google leaves on computers (cache and cookies) fairly obsessively.

Google says its search bar is programmed to avoid suggesting searches that portray people in a negative light. As far as we can tell, this claim is false.

Generally speaking, we are finding that Lieberman was right: It is somewhat difficult to get the Google search bar to suggest negative searches related to Mrs. Clinton or to make any Clinton-related suggestions when one types a negative search term. Bing and Yahoo, on the other hand, often show a number of negative suggestions in response to the same search terms. Bing and Yahoo seem to be showing us what people are actually searching for; Google is showing us something else — but what, and for what purpose?

As for Google Trends, as Lieberman reported, Google indeed withholds negative search terms for Mrs. Clinton even when such terms show high popularity in Trends. We have also found that Google often suggests positive search terms for Mrs. Clinton even when such terms are nearly invisible in Trends. The widely held belief, reinforced by Google’s own documentation, that Google’s search suggestions are based on “what other people are searching for” seems to be untrue in many instances.

Google’s Explanation

Google tries to explain away such findings by saying its search bar is programmed to avoid suggesting searches that portray people in a negative light. As far as we can tell, this claim is false; Google suppresses negative suggestions selectively, not across the board. It is easy to get autocomplete to suggest negative searches related to prominent people, one of whom happens to be Mrs. Clinton’s opponent.

A picture is often worth a thousand words, so let’s look at a few examples that appear both to support Lieberman’s perspective and refute Google’s. After that, we’ll examine some counterexamples.

Before we start, I need to point out a problem: If you try to replicate the searches I will show you, you will likely get different results. I don’t think that invalidates our work, but you will have to decide for yourself. Your results might be different because search activity changes over time, and that, in turn, affects search suggestions. There is also the “personalization problem.” If you are like the vast majority of people, you freely allow Google to track you 24 hours a day. As a result, Google knows who you are when you are typing something in its search bar, and it sends you customized results.For both of these reasons, you might doubt the validity of the conclusions I will draw in this essay. That is up to you. All I can say in my defense is that I have worked with eight other people in recent months to try to conduct a fair and balanced investigation, and, as I said, we have taken several precautions to try to get generic, non-customized search suggestions rather than the customized kind. Our investigation is also ongoing, and I encourage you to conduct your own, as well.

Let’s start with a very simple search. The image below shows a search for “Hillary Clinton is ” (notice the space after is) conducted on August 3rd on Bing, Yahoo, and Google. As you can see, both Bing and Yahoo displayed multiple negative suggestions such as “Hillary Clinton is a liar” and “Hillary Clinton is a criminal,” but Google is showed only two suggestions, both of which were almost absurdly positive: “Hillary Clinton is winning” and “Hillary Clinton is awesome.”

“Hillary Clinton is ”
© Photo: Bing, Yahoo, Google
“Hillary Clinton is ”

To find out what people actually searched for, let’s turn to Google Trends — Google’s tabulation of the popularity of search results. Below you will see a comparison between the popularity of searching for “Hillary Clinton is a liar” and the popularity of searching for “Hillary Clinton is awesome.” This image was also generated on August 3rd. “Hillary Clinton is a liar” was by far the more popular search term; hardly anyone conducted a search using the phrase, “Hillary Clinton is awesome.”

“Hillary Clinton is awesome.”
© Photo: Google
“Hillary Clinton is awesome.”

Okay, but Google admits that it censors negative search results; presumably, that is why we only saw positive results for Mrs. Clinton — even a result that virtually no one searched for. Does Google really suppress negative results? We have seen what happens with “Hillary Clinton is.” What happens with “Donald Trump is “? (Again, be sure to include the space after is.)

“Donald Trump is “?
© Photo: Google
“Donald Trump is “?

In the above image, captured on August 8th, we again found the odd “awesome” suggestion, but we also saw a suggestion that appears to be negative: “Donald Trump is dead.” Shouldn’t a result like that have been suppressed? Let’s look further.

Consider the following searches, conducted on August 2nd, for “anti Hillary” and “anti Trump.” As you can see below, “anti Hillary” generated no suggestions, but “anti Trump” generated four, including “anti Trump cartoon” and “anti Trump song.” Well, you say, perhaps there were no anti-Hillary suggestions to be made. But Yahoo — responding merely to “anti Hill” — came up with eight, including “anti Hillary memes” and “anti Hillary jokes.”

“anti Hillary” and “anti Trump.”
© Photo: Google, Yahoo
“anti Hillary” and “anti Trump.”

This seems to further refute Google’s claim about not disparaging people, but let’s dig deeper.

After Mrs. Clinton named Senator Tim Kaine to be her running mate, Mr. Trump dubbed him with one of his middle-school-style nicknames: “Corrupt Kaine.” Sure enough, that instantly became a popular search term on Google, as this July 27th image from Trends confirms:

“Corrupt Kaine.”
© Photo: Google
“Corrupt Kaine.”

Even so, as you can see in the image below, in response to “corrupt,” the Google search bar showed us nothing about Senator Kaine, but it did show us both “Kamala” (Kamala Harris, attorney general of California) and “Karzai” (Hamid Karzai, former president of Afghanistan). If you clicked on the phrases “corrupt Kamala” and “corrupt Karzai,” search results appeared that linked to highly negative web pages about Kamala Harris and Hamid Karzai, respectively.

Oddly enough, both on the day we looked up “corrupt Kaine” and more recently when I was writing this essay, Google Trends provided no popularity data for either “corrupt Kamala” or “corrupt Karzai.” It is hard to imagine, in any case, that either search term has been popular in recent months. So why did the Google search bar disparage Attorney General Harris and President Karzai but not Mrs. Clinton?

“corrupt Kaine”, “corrupt Kamala”, “corrupt Karzai.”
© Photo: Google, Yahoo
“corrupt Kaine”, “corrupt Kamala”, “corrupt Karzai.”

If you still have doubts about whether Google suggests negative searches for prominent people, see how Senators Cruz, Rubio and Sanders fared in the following searches conducted between July 23rd and August 2nd:

Searches conducted between July 23rd and August 2nd - Lying Ted
© Photo: Google
Searches conducted between July 23rd and August 2nd – Lying Ted
Searches conducted between July 23rd and August 2nd - Little Marco
© Photo: Google
Searches conducted between July 23rd and August 2nd – Little Marco
Searches conducted between July 23rd and August 2nd - Anti-Bernie
© Photo: Google
Searches conducted between July 23rd and August 2nd – Anti-Bernie

I could give you more examples, but you get the idea.

The brazenness of Google’s search suggestion tinkering become especially clear when we searched for “crooked” — Mr. Trump’s unkind nickname for Mrs. Clinton — on Google, Bing, and Yahoo on various dates in June and July. On Google the word “crooked” alone generated nothing for Mrs. Clinton, even though, once again, its popularity was clear on Google Trends. Now compare (in the image following the Trends graph) what happened on Bing and Yahoo:

“crooked”
© Photo: Google
“crooked”
“crooked”
© Photo: Google, Bing, Yahoo
“crooked”

No surprise here. Consistent with Google’s own search popularity data, Bing and Yahoo listed “crooked Hillary” near the top of their autocomplete suggestions.

The weird part came when we typed more letters into Google’s search bar, trying to force it to suggest “crooked Hillary.” On June 9th, I had to go all the way to “crooked H-I-L-L-A” to get a response, and it was not the response I was expecting. Instead of showing me “crooked Hillary,” I was shown a phrase that I doubt anyone in the world has ever searched for — “crooked Hillary Bernie”:

“crooked H-I-L-L-A”
© Photo: Google
“crooked H-I-L-L-A”

Crooked Hillary Bernie? What the heck does that mean? Not much, obviously, but this is something my associates and I have found repeatedly: When you are able to get Google to make negative suggestions for Mrs. Clinton, they sometimes make no sense and are almost certainly not indicative of what other people are searching for.

Masking and Misleading

There are also indications that autocomplete isn’t always pro-Clinton and isn’t always anti-Trump, and in this regard the Sourcefed video overstated its case. While it is true, for example, that “anti Hillary” generated no suggestions in our study, both “anti Clinton” and “anti Hillary Clinton” did produce negative results when we search on August 8th, as you can see below:

“anti Clinton”
© Photo: Google
“anti Clinton”
“anti Hillary Clinton”
© Photo: Google
“anti Hillary Clinton”

At times, we were also able to generate neutral or at least partially positive results for Donald Trump. Consider this image, for example, which shows a search for “Donald Trump” on August 8th:

Search for “Donald Trump” on August 8th
© Photo: Google
Search for “Donald Trump” on August 8th

If you believe Google can do no wrong and that it never favors one candidate over another (even though Google and its top executives donated more than $800,000 to Obama in 2012 and only $37,000 to Romney), so be it. But trying to be as objective as possible in recent months, my staff and I have concluded that when Google occasionally does give us unbiased election-related search suggestions, it might just be trying to confuse us. Let me explain.

When Ronald Robertson and I began conducting experiments on the power that biased search rankings have over voter preferences, we were immediately struck by the fact that few people could detect the bias in the search results we showed them, even when those results were extremely biased. We immediately wondered whether we could mask the bias in our results so that even fewer people could detect it. To our amazement, we found that a very simple mask — putting a search result that favored the opposing candidate into the third search position (out of 10 positions on the first page of search results) — was enough to fool all of our study participants into thinking they were seeing unbiased search results.

Masking a manipulation is easy, and Google is a master of obfuscation, as I explained a few years ago in my TIME essay, “Google’s Dance.” In the context of autocomplete, all you have to do to confuse people is introduce a few exceptions to the rule. So “anti Clinton” and “anti Hillary Clinton” produce negative search suggestions, while “anti Hillary” does not. Because those counter-examples exist, we immediately forget about the odd thing that’s happening with “anti Hillary,” and we also ignore the fact that “anti Donald” produces negative suggestions:

“anti Donald”
© Photo: Google
“anti Donald”

Meanwhile, day after day — at least for the few weeks we were monitoring this term — “anti Hillary” continued to produce no suggestions. Why would Google have singled out this one phrase to protect? As always, when you are dealing with the best number crunchers in the world, the answer has to do with numbers. What do you notice when you look below at the frequency of searches for the three anti-Hillary phrases?

“anti Hillary”
© Photo: Google
“anti Hillary”

That’s right. “Anti Hillary” was drawing the most traffic, so that was the phrase to protect.

Sourcefed’s video was overstated, but, overall, our investigation supports Sourcefed’s claim that Google’s autocomplete tool is biased to favor Mrs. Clinton — sometimes dramatically so, sometimes more subtly.

Sputnik’s Recent Claims

All of the examples I’ve given you of apparent bias in Google’s search suggestions are old and out of date — conducted by me and my staff over the summer of 2016. Generally speaking, you won’t be able to confirm what we found (which is why I am showing you screen shots). This is mainly because search suggestions keep changing. So the big question is: Do new search suggestions favor Mr. Trump or Mrs. Clinton.

Recently, Sputnik News reported that Google was suppressing search suggestions related to trending news stories expressing concern about Mrs. Clinton’s health. Sure enough, as you can see in the following screen shots captured on August 29th, suggestions on Bing and Yahoo reflected the trending news, but suggestions on Google did not:

Bing
© Photo: Bing
Bing

 

Yahoo
© Photo: Yahoo
Yahoo

 

Google
© Photo: Google
Google

And, yes, once again, Google Trends showed a recent spike in searches for the missing search suggestions:

Google Trends
© Photo: Google
Google Trends

While the news was buzzing about Mrs. Clinton’s health, hundreds of stories were also being published about Mr. Trump’s “flip flopping” on immigration issues, and that too was reflected on Google Trends:

Mr. Trump’s “flip flopping”
© Photo: Google
Mr. Trump’s “flip flopping”

But, as you can see, Google did not suppress “Donald Trump flip flops” from its suggestions:

“Donald Trump flip flops”
© Photo: Google
“Donald Trump flip flops”

Google, it seems, is playing this game both consistently and slyly. It is saving its bias for the most valuable real estate — trending, high-value terms — and eliminating signs of bias for terms that have lost their value.

And that brings me, at last, to a research project I initiated only a few weeks ago. If Google is really biasing its search suggestions, what is the company’s motive? A new study sheds surprising and disturbing light on this question.

How Google’s Search Suggestions Affect Our Searches

Normally, I wouldn’t talk publicly about the early results of a long-term research project I have not yet published in a scientific journal or at least presented at a scientific conference. I have decided to make an exception this time for three reasons: First, the results of the study on autocomplete I completed recently are strong and easy to interpret. Second, these results are consistent with volumes of research that has already been conducted on two well-known psychological processes: negativity bias and confirmation bias. And third, the November election is growing near, and the results of my new experiment are relevant to that election — perhaps even of crucial importance.

I began the new study asking myself why Google would want to suppress negative search suggestions. Why those in particular?

In the study, a diverse group of 300 people from 44 U.S. states were asked which of four search suggestions they would likely click on if they were trying to learn more about either Mike Pence, the Republican candidate for vice president, or Tim Kaine, the Democratic candidate for vice president. They could also select a fifth option in order to type their own search terms. Here is an example of what a search looked like:

Tim Kaine
© Photo: Google
Tim Kaine

Two of the searches we showed people contained negative search suggestions (one negative suggestion in each search); all of the other search suggestions were either neutral (like “Tim Kaine office“) or positive (like “Mike Pence for vice president“).

Each of the negative suggestions — “Mike Pence scandal” and “Tim Kaine scandal” — appeared only once in the experiment. Thus, if study participants were treating negative items the same way they treated the other four alternatives in a given search, the negative items would have attracted about 20 percent of the clicks in each search.

By including or suppressing negatives in search suggestions, you can direct people’s searches one way or another just as surely as if they were dogs on a leash.

But that’s not what happened. The three main findings were as follows:

1) Overall, people clicked on the negative items about 40 percent of the time — that’s twice as often as one would expect by chance. What’s more, compared with the neutral items we showed people in searches that served as controls, negative items were selected about five times as often.

2) Among eligible, undecided voters —the impressionable people who decide close elections — negative items attracted more than 15 times as many clicks as neutral items attracted in matched control questions.

3) People affiliated with one political party selected the negative suggestion for the candidate from their own party less frequently than the negative suggestion for the other candidate. In other words, negative suggestions attracted the largest number of clicks when they were consistent with people’s biases.

These findings are consistent with two well-known phenomena in the social sciences: negativity bias and confirmation bias.

Negativity bias refers to the fact that people are far more affected by negative stimuli than by positive ones. As a famous paper on the subject notes, a single cockroach in one’s salad ruins the whole salad, but a piece of candy placed on a plate of disgusting crud will not make that crud seem even slightly more palatable.

Negative stimuli draw more attention than neutral or positive ones, they activate more behavior, and they create stronger impressions — negative ones, of course. In recent years, political scientists have even suggested that negativity bias plays an important role in the political choices we make — that people adopt conservative political views because they have a heightened sensitivity to negative stimuli.

Confirmation bias refers to the fact that people almost always seek out, pay attention to, and believe information that confirms their beliefs more than they seek out, pay attention to, or believe information that contradicts those beliefs.

When you apply these two principles to search suggestions, they predict that people are far more likely to click on negative search suggestions than on neutral or positive ones — especially when those negative suggestions are consistent with their own beliefs. This is exactly what the new study confirms.

Google data analysts know this too. They know because they have ready access to billions of pieces of data showing exactly how many times people click on negative search suggestions. They also know exactly how many times people click on every other kind of search suggestion one can categorize.

To put this another way, what I and other researchers must stumble upon and can study only crudely, Google employees can study with exquisite precision every day.

Given Google’s strong support for Mrs. Clinton, it seems reasonable to conjecture that Google employees manually suppress negative search suggestions relating to Clinton in order to reduce the number of searches people conduct that will expose them to anti-Clinton content. They appear to work a bit less hard to suppress negative search suggestions for Mr. Trump, Senator Sanders, Senator Cruz, and other prominent people.

This is not the place to review the evidence that Google strongly supports Mrs. Clinton, but since we’re talking about Google’s search bar, here are two quick reminders:

First, on August 6th, when we typed “When is the election?,” we were shown the following image:

 “When is the election?”
© Photo: Google
“When is the election?”

See anything odd about that picture? Couldn’t Google have displayed two photos just as easily as it displayed one?

And second, as reported by the Next Web and other news sources, in mid 2015, when people typed “Who will be the next president?,” Google displayed boxes such as the one below, which left no doubt about the answer:

“Who will be the next president?”
© Photo: Google
“Who will be the next president?”

Corporate Control

Over time, differentially suppressing negative search suggestions will repeatedly expose millions of people to far more positive search results for one political candidate than for the other. Research I have been conducting since 2013 with Ronald Robertson of Northeastern University has shown that high-ranking search results that favor one candidate can easily shift 20 percent or more of undecided voters toward that candidate — up to 80 percent in some demographic groups, as I noted earlier. This is because of the enormous trust people have in computer-generated search results, which people mistakenly believe are completely impartial and objective — just as they mistakenly believe search suggestions are completely impartial and objective.

The impact of biased search rankings on opinions, which we call the Search Engine Manipulation Effect (SEME), is one of the largest effects ever discovered in the behavioral sciences, and because it is invisible to users, it is especially dangerous as a source of influence. Because Google handles 90 percent of search in most countries and because many elections are very close, we estimate that SEME has been determining the outcomes of upwards of 25 percent of the national elections in the world for several years now, with increasing impact each year. This is occurring, we believe, whether or not Google’s executives are taking an active interest in elections; all by itself, Google’s search algorithm virtually always ends up favoring one candidate over another simply because of “organic” search patterns by users. When it does, votes shift; in large elections, millions of votes can be shifted. You can think of this as a kind of digital bandwagon effect.

The new effect I have described in this essay — a search suggestion effect — is very different from SEME but almost certainly increases SEME’s impact. If you can surreptitiously nudge people into generating search results that are inherently biased, the battle is half won. Simply by including or suppressing negatives in search suggestions, you can direct people’s searches one way or another just as surely as if they were dogs on a leash, and you can use this subtle form of influence not just to alter people’s views about candidates but about anything.

Google launched autocomplete, its search suggestion tool, in 2004 as an opt-in that helped users find information faster. Perhaps that’s all it was in the beginning, but just as Google itself has morphed from being a cool high-tech anomaly into what former Google executive James Whittaker has called a “an advertising company with a single corporate-mandated focus,” so has autocomplete morphed from being a cool and helpful search tool into what may be a tool of corporate manipulation. By 2008, not only was autocomplete no longer an opt-in feature, there was no way to opt out of it, and since that time, through strategic censorship, it may have become a tool for directing people’s searches and thereby influencing not only the choices they make but even the thoughts they think.

Look back at the searches I have shown you. Why does Google typically show you far fewer search suggestions than other search engines do — 4 or fewer, generally speaking, compared with 8 for Bing, 8 for DuckDuckGo and 10 for Yahoo? Even if you knew nothing of phenomena like negativity bias and confirmation bias, you certainly know that shorter lists give people fewer choices. Whatever autocomplete was in the beginning, its main function may now be to manipulate.

Without whistleblowers or warrants, no one can prove Google executives are using digital shenanigans to influence elections, but I don’t see how we can rule out that possibility.

Perhaps you are skeptical about my claims. Perhaps you are also not seeing, on balance, a pro-Hillary bias in the search suggestions you receive on your computer. Perhaps you are also not concerned about the possibility that search suggestions can be used systematically to nudge people’s searches in one direction or another. If you are skeptical in any or all of these ways, ask yourself this: Why, to begin with, is Google censoring its search suggestions? (And it certainly acknowledges doing so.) Why doesn’t it just show us, say, the top ten most popular searches related to whatever we are typing? Why, in particular, is it suppressing negative information? Are Google’s leaders afraid we will have panic attacks and sue the company if we are directed to dark and disturbing web pages? Do they not trust us to make up our own minds about things? Do they think we are children?

Without whistleblowers or warrants, no one can prove Google executives are using digital shenanigans to influence elections, but I don’t see how we can rule out that possibility. There is nothing illegal about manipulating people using search suggestions and search rankings — quite the contrary, in fact — and it makes good financial sense for a company to use every legal means at its disposal to support its preferred candidates.

Using the mathematical techniques Robertson and I described in our 2015 report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, I recently calculated that SEME alone can shift between 2.6 and 10.4 million votes in the upcoming US presidential race without anyone knowing this has occurred and without leaving a paper trail.

I arrived at those numbers before I knew about the power search suggestions have to alter searches. The new study suggests that autocomplete alone might be able to shift between 800,000 and 3.2 million votes — also without anyone knowing this is occurring.

Perhaps even more troubling, because Google tracks and monitors us so aggressively, Google officials know who among us is planning to vote and whom we are planning to vote for. They also know who among us are still undecided, and that is where the influence of biased search suggestions and biased search rankings could be applied with enormous effect.

[Postscript: Google declined to comment on the record when queried about some of the concerns I have raised in this article. Instead, on August 17th, a company representative sent me to a blog post released by the company on June 16th; you can read Google’s official position on autocomplete there. For the record, I am a moderate politically, and I support Hillary Clinton for president. I do not believe, however, that it would be right for her to win the presidency because of the invisible, large-scale manipulations of a private company. That would make democracy meaningless, and that is why I am trying to keep the public informed about my research findings. Also for the record, I have chosen to publish this article through Sputnik News because Sputnik agreed to publish it in unedited form in order to preserve the article’s accuracy. —R.E.]


EPSTEIN (@DrREpstein) is Senior Research Psychologist at the American Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology in Vista, California. A PhD of Harvard University, Epstein has published fifteen books on artificial intelligence and other topics. He is also the former editor-in-chief of Psychology Today.

Tags:
Search Engine Manipulation Effect, manipulation, 2016 US Presidential election, 2016 US Presidential Run, Google, Robert Epstein, Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, United States

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