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Trump takes on Google in complaints about coverage

Google says its search function "is not used

Google says its search function "is not used to set a political agenda." Above, President Donald Trump on Monday. Credit: AP / Alex Brandon

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump, in a pair of pre-dawn tweets Tuesday, accused the search engine Google of “suppressing” and “hiding” conservative news coverage favorable to his administration and vowed to take action on the issue.

Hours later, Trump’s chief economic adviser Larry Kudlow told reporters outside of the White House that the administration was “taking a look” at whether Google should be regulated by the government, all as the web company disputed the president’s claims of political bias.

Trump tweeted that a search for “Trump News” on the website generated “only the viewing/reporting of Fake News Media.” He said, without citing evidence, that Google is “RIGGED, for me & others, so that almost all stories & news is BAD.”

Google, in a statement, pushed back against the president's claims, saying its search function "is not used to set a political agenda and we don't bias our results toward any political ideology."

"Every year, we issue hundreds of improvements to our algorithms to ensure they surface high-quality content in response to users' queries," Google said. "We continually work to improve Google Search and we never rank search results to manipulate political sentiment."

The president, who on Twitter claimed “96% of results on ‘Trump News’ are from National Left-Wing Media,” appeared to be referring to a piece published Saturday by the conservative blog PJ Media, with the headline “96 Percent of Google Search Results for 'Trump' News Are from Liberal Media Outlets.”

The article states that a review of the first 100 articles to pop up on the writer’s Google search for Trump-related news largely consisted of national media outlets including CNN, The Washington Post and The New York Times. The writer, acknowledging that her methods were “not scientific,” lamented that the search did not yield more results for conservative outlets and blogs.

“PJ Media did not appear in the first 100 results, nor did National Review, The Weekly Standard, Breitbart, The Blaze, The Daily Wire, Hot Air, Townhall, Red State, or any other conservative-leaning sites except” Fox News and The Wall Street Journal, the article noted.

Trump added in his tweet: “This is a very serious situation-will be addressed!”

Google on its website said a variety of factors go into returning search results, including a user’s location and past search history.

Trump’s focus on Google is the latest in a series of statements over the past month alleging political bias by websites including Twitter and Facebook. Trump has taken aim at the social media platforms, accusing them of “totally discriminating against Republican/Conservative voices” ever since several platforms moved to block or temporarily suspend content from Alex Jones, a right-wing conspiracy theorist and radio host who has argued that the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting was a hoax. Twenty children and six staffers were among those killed in that massacre in Newtown, Connecticut.

“I think that Google and Twitter and Facebook, they are really treading on very, very troubled territory and they have to be careful. It is not fair to large portions of the population,” Trump told reporters at the White House on Tuesday.

Last month, Trump accused Twitter, his preferred social media platform, of using “discriminatory and illegal” practices to make it more difficult for users to find the accounts of prominent conservatives on the website.

Twitter blamed recent changes to its search algorithm for the search issues and said it was working to resolve the glitches. Company CEO Jack Dorsey, in an interview with CNN last month, said that while Twitter’s employees were “more left-leaning,” the company does “not look at content with regards to political viewpoint or ideology.”

Dorsey is expected to testify before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Sept. 5 about the platform's algorithms and content monitoring, according to The Associated Press.

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