Donald Trump’s claim that Google is rigging its search results to make him look bad has been rubbished by an expert.
The president alleged on Twitter that 96 percent of search results for the phrase ‘Trump news’ show only “fake news” from the “National Left-Wing Media”.
He later told reporters at the White House that Google has “really taken advantage of a lot of people”.
Bill Hartzer is a search engine optimisation expert who has worked in the field since 1996. He spoke to RadioLIVE’s Wendyl Nissen about why the President’s allegation of bias at Google is dubious at best.
He says search engines such as Google and Bing don’t have the ability to block out some articles and promote others, and the order websites appear is influenced by what people have searched and clicked on in the past.
“Some of the factors Google takes into account are models we like, certain articles we keep on clicking on. Google will show articles we like over those we don’t.
“The more we click and read, that also influences what articles are shown to other people.”
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The President’s claim that negative coverage of his administration is promoted over more positive reporting doesn’t hold much weight, he says.
“Google doesn’t use, as far as I know, any particular parts of their algorithm to say ‘Okay, this has a negative sentiment against some person so we’re going to show it more’.”
Mr Hartzer says another factor is media is getting smarter at using key words and other tricks to help them rise up the search engine ranks.
“It just so happens that news outlets now do a better job at optimising their websites so they show up well in Google and get more page views.”
Nissen suggested President Trump is simply picking up on the fact he’s “not very popular”, which Mr Hartzer says is more than possible.
“There’s not any part of Google’s algorithm, at least that’s been released publicly, that favours one particular person. It just so happens that right now that’s what we want to read and what news outlets continue to write about.”
Google has denied the President’s claims, saying in a statement: “Search is not used to set a political agenda and we don’t bias our results toward any political ideology.”
Mr Trump has been known to dismiss critical coverage of his presidency with his catchphrase “fake news”, and has railed against the “mainstream media” many times in the past.
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