WSJ claims Google blacklists sites and makes algorithmic changes to favor big businesses
01/11/2021 // Cassie B. // Views

Yes, Google does blacklist sites, target conservative news sites, and manipulate its algorithm to benefit big businesses – and even the Wall Street Journal is concerned.

According to their report, Google has been blacklisting certain sites since the early 2000s to ensure they do not appear in search results. These changes are separate from those involving sites they are legally required to block, such as those featuring copyright infringement or child abuse and those aimed at demoting spam sites.

In particular, the WSJ said it had seen documents demonstrating that Google News has blacklisted conservative publications. Among the sites on the list of those that won’t appear in Google News or Featured Products were the right-wing sites The Gateway Pundit and The United West. The WSJ also said it had seen a draft policy document that says the goal of the blacklist is to “bar the sites from surfacing in any Search feature or news product sites.”

A person familiar with the matter, meanwhile, told the publication that changes to the blacklist must be carried out by at least two people, with one making the change and another approving it.

This casts serious doubt on Google’s often-disputed claims that it does not make decisions based on politics as well as its congressional testimony that it does not use blacklists. When asked in a 2018 hearing if the search giant has ever blacklisted any “company, group, individual or outlet… for political reasons," Google’s Vice President of Public Policy, Karan Bhatia, replied: 'No, ma'am, we don't use blacklists/whitelists to influence our search results."


Not surprisingly, Google attacked the WSJ story, claiming that it gives a “very inaccurate impression” of how they operate. They also said it contained “old, incomplete anecdotes.”

Google favoring big businesses who also happen to be big advertisers

The WSJ also reported they’re rigging their system to favor big businesses. Algorithmic changes to search results are made to promote bigger companies over smaller ones. In at least one case, the paper claims, they made changes on behalf of eBay, who also happens to be one of their major advertisers. How convenient!

Other insiders have said they change algorithms to boost sites like Facebook and Amazon in their search results.

These moves are reportedly hotly contested within the company, with those in favor claiming that customers are more likely to find what they need at bigger outlets – yet Amazon's products are boosted even if the items in question are discontinued. Although the issue has come up many times in meetings discussing algorithm changes, the company has repeatedly opted not to reverse the changes.

They also update their index of sites like Amazon and Facebook more frequently, which helps them show up more often in people’s search results.

In addition, some of their biggest advertisers are given direct advice on improving their organic search results, which is a perk not extended to businesses who lack contacts at Google. The company’s advertising revenue in 2018 was $116.3 billion.

In July, Google came under fire when several conservative websites disappeared from their search results, including the Drudge Report, Breitbart and the National Pulse. They claimed it was due to a “bug” they have since fixed. But because its targeted right-leaning websites, former Google engineer Mike Wacker told the media that the glitch might have inadvertently exposed an internal blacklist targeting conservatives.

He said: “The glitch is that sites on this blacklist disappeared from Google search results, but the existence of the list is very much by design. And that raises a major question: Why was this blacklist created in the first place, and what else is it used for?”

Google claims it cannot share how its algorithms work to prevent people from gaming their system, which may sound plausible but is also an expedient way to cover up their efforts to silence conservative sites and place their biggest advertisers front and center.

Sources for this article include:

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