Zachary Vorhies, a senior software engineer at Google, has recently made stunning revelations, leaking hundreds of the company's alleged internal documents showing that the tech giant could have been targeting conservative outlets using a vast array of tools, including by blacklisting them from Android's "Google Now" search results.
Among the websites mentioned in the leaked file are such right-wing media outlets as The National Enquirer, People’s Pundit Daily, The Gateway Pundit, Media Matters, InfoWars, and many others. Some of these publishers have already faced trouble with tech companies blocking their content and said they were "not surprised" by finding themselves in Google's alleged blacklist.
Fact Checking, High Quality Content Aren’t Shields Against Google Blacklisting
Richard Baris, data journalism editor at the People’s Pundit Daily (PPD), one of the blacklisted right-leaning websites that have recently faced a rapid decline in views, said that the media outlet was disappointed by Google's decision, especially since the PPD has always acted transparently and aligned its work with the principles of the Trust Project - a global consortium of news organisations championing transparency and accountability in the news industry.
Baris stated that, to his knowledge, the PPD "never published a report […] deemed to be inaccurate by independent fact-checkers". He also recalled that the PPD was among the few media outlets that correctly predicted Donald Trump's victory in the 2016 US presidential election, demonstrating the high quality of its content.
But the Pundit Daily has still found itself in Google's blacklist. Baris sees no reason why the People’s Pundit Daily should have wound up in the list unless "ideology was the driving force behind the decision" of the company.
While it's unclear when the People’s Pundit Daily ended up on Google's alleged blacklist, according to a coverage analysis by Similar Web, the website's visits dropped sharply after April 2019, from around 74,000 visitors to 26,000 at the lowest point.
Pummelled by 'Liberal Tech Giants' for Becoming Influential
Ethan Ralph, founder of The Ralph Retort, another right-wing website on the company's blacklist, said that finding his website on Google's blacklist was "amusing", but at the same time not surprising. Ralph shared that he and independent creators like himself have long been fighting against "deplatforming". He recalled his show being kicked off YouTube when it "got too influential".
Jim Hoft, founder of conservative right-wing media outlet The Gateway Pundit, also included in the alleged Google blacklist, was also not surprised about finding his site in it and noted that conservative publishers have been facing similar problems with tech companies since the 2016 presidential election in the US.
"Like Sputnik and others, we have been pummelled by the liberal tech giants since that time. Facebook hides our content. Google buries us in their search results. Twitter has us shadow-banned", Hoft said.
Still, The Gateway Pundit's founder said that the website is growing year over year, because "people want the truth and not the pretend Russian collusion nonsense". At the same time, Hoft expressed hope that the White House won’t stand idly by in this situation and will act to stop "bias and deceit by the tech giants before it is too late".
Tech Giants Like Google 'Manipulated' Election 'on Behalf of Hillary Clinton’
One of the points that concerned whistle-blower Zachary Vorhies the most was the fact that Google might use its dominant position to affect US elections. In secretly shot footage, published by Project Veritas, Senior Google Executive Jen Gennai explicitly says in a conversation that the company had decided it was big enough to determine "fair and equitable" search results for the people and that Google wanted to prevent a "Trump situation" in the 2020 election.
The founder of The Ralph Retort believes that the latest leaks have clearly showed that Google and similar companies actively tried to "manipulate" US election in favour of the Democratic candidate "on behalf of Hillary Clinton" in 2016. He argued that such "dishonest monopolies" should be broken up as soon as possible.
Phill Crapidy, editor of the blacklisted Right Side News, a right-wing website that seeks to report on news underrepresented in mainstream media, recalled that during the 2016 presidential election, conservative publishers were heavily "battered, abused, silenced and slandered", while their voices were practically "voided".
He noted that at the same time, left-wing media outlets have thrived and been rewarded for articles that reported on the now debunked "conspiracy theory of 'Russian collusion'", as was the case with The New York Times receiving the Pulitzer Prize in National Reporting in 2018. Later the two-year investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller proved that there were no signs of the Trump campaign’s collusion with the Russian government.
Vorhies' revelations about Google's purported blacklisting of right-wing sources come amid a new election cycle in the US. At the moment, 23 Democratic candidates are fighting for a chance to become a candidate in the 2020 presidential election and defeat incumbent President Donald Trump, who will be seeking re-election. The latter has recently accused Google of manipulating between 2.6 million and 16 million votes in the 2016 election in favour of his opponent, Hillary Clinton, without elaborating further.