"It’s time for people to realize and for us to begin to take action over the fact that these massive entities, these massive corporations that are what influence us hour after hour, day after day, can impact the political outcomes in America and around the world," Verheyden-Hilliard said on Tuesday.
She was commenting on a Sputnik story from Monday that reported exclusively on a study indicating that search engines and the results they yield can affect the outcome of an election by as much as 25 percent.
"Google and one of its founders, Eric Schmidt, have donated huge sums of money to the Clinton campaign," Verheyden-Hilliard stated. "Schmidt has helped fund an entity called Groundwork, which is actually working for the Clinton campaign."
As Sputnik reported, Robert Epstein, a senior research psychologist at the American Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology Behavioral Research and Technology compared results from US users’ queries for negative information about Clinton and her Republican rival, Donald Trump, on the three most popular search engines – Google, Yahoo and Bing.
In comparison, Yahoo’s search engine merely required the user to type "hill" to yield 10 suggestions, three of which referred to the Democratic candidate’s health. Bing produced eight suggestions by typing, "hillary clinton h," with two pertaining to Clinton’s health.
Google has claimed that its search engine is programmed to filter out negative results. But that didn’t appear to be the case when Epstein performed a similar search for "Trump flip flops." That query merely required the user to type, "donald trump fl," to yield the sought-after topic.
Similar complaints have been made against Facebook, which has been accused of liberal bias in items it posts as "trending."
In her interview with Sputnik, Verheyden-Hilliard warned that it’s a mistake for anyone to assume giant internet companies are neutral, especially when it comes to politics.
"Right now they have massive control over information and they are unlimited and unbridled," she said. "There is nothing capping their behavior except public exposure of their behavior."
To protect democracy, Verheyden-Hilliard recommended that companies such as Facebook and Google be treated as public utilities instead of corporations motivated solely by profit.