Trump says Google Search biased against him

Republican nominee says Google suppressing negative news on Clinton

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Donald Trump speaking to supporters at the Convention Center in Phoenix, Arizona, on Aug. 31, 2016.

Credit: Gage Skidmore

Just two days after his first debate with Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump told an audience at a political rally in Wisconsin that Google is biased against him and suppressing search results.

After saying that a new Google "poll" showed him leading Democratic nominee Clinton, he went on to accuse the market's most dominant search engine of working against him.

Google itself did not run a poll after the debate.

Instead, the Independent Journal Review commissioned a poll using Google Consumer Surveys data. That poll showed Trump was leading Clinton nationally by 1.7%, but that Clinton won the debate by 4 percentage points.

"A new post-debate poll that just came out, the Google poll, has us leading Hillary Clinton by two points nationwide and that's despite the fact that the Google search engine was suppressing the bad news about Hillary Clinton," Trump said Wednesday night at a rally in Waukesha County, Wisconsin.

The Republican presidential nominee did not offer any examples of Google changing its search results in connection with Trump or Clinton.

The Trump campaign had not responded to a request for comment at deadline.

Google declined to comment on Trump's statements.

However, in August 2015, Amit Singhal, a senior vice president for Google, wrote in a piece on that Google does not work to influence political elections.

"Google has never ever re-ranked search results on any topic (including elections) to manipulate user sentiment," Singhal wrote a year ago. "Moreover, we do not make any ranking tweaks that are specific to elections or political candidates. From the beginning, our approach to search has been to provide the most relevant answers and results to our users, and it would undermine people's trust in our results, and our company, if we were to change course."

In July, The Washington Post posted research showing that Trump prominently appeared on the Google News homepage about twice as often as Clinton did.

Patrick Moorhead, an analyst with Moor Insights & Strategy, said it's "highly unlikely" that Google is adjusting its search engine to benefit one candidate over another.

"Trump didn't do very well at the debate, and therefore he needs to blame the aftermath on something," he said. "He's going after Google as he doesn't like what he sees on search."

Going after a search engine doesn't make a whole lot of sense, Moorhead continued. "Google search is very algorithmic, with very few people managing these things," he said. "The misconception is that there are a lot of humans involved behind the curtain at search."

While it's technically possible for Google to tweak its search algorithms, doing so could hurt the business and its dominant share of the search marketplace.

However, that doesn't mean that an allegation, even one not backed up with evidence, won't harm a company.

"It very difficult for companies to have a clean reputation with charges and counter charges always flying," said Jeff Kagan, an independent industry analyst. "I don't know whether there is a problem at Google or not, but the charge will hurt them. Charges like this always do."

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