Manipulation of Votes and Media Threatens Our Nation

Manipulation of Votes and Media Threatens Our Nation

Manipulation of Votes and Media Threatens Our Nation

Not many people may have seen the recent Senate hearings on media manipulation where Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) quizzed a psychologist about how companies like Google, Facebook, Twitter, and others manipulate public opinion in favor of their chosen politicians and views.

The witness, Dr. Robert Epstein, is a liberal Democrat, was a strong supporter of Hillary Clinton in 2016, and is the former editor-in-chief of Psychology Today. It’s not like the left can claim that Dr. Epstein is a conservative with an agenda – as a matter of fact, he chuckles a bit at the idea. But what he discusses in his testimony is no laughing matter, because Google and other companies can and do manipulate search results to achieve a desired political outcome, according to his research. Dr. Epstein claims that despite his leftist leanings, he is interested in two things: objectivity and the preservation of democracy, and his research shows clearly that the manipulation of search results and certain behaviors on the part of social media giants and search engines can and does sway the results of elections.

This testimony should be frightening to any American interested in ensuring that the system of government created by our Founding Fathers remains intact.

Courtesy of Max Pixel; freely distributed with Creative Commons Zero – CC0

Frankly, this manipulation is no different from what the Russians are doing when they use active measures to fundamentally change the way Americans engage with one another and process information fed to them by the mass media and Big Tech.

But it’s not just Big Tech.

Media manipulation writ large is destroying our trust in available reporting. Americans no longer have to read an article or analyze the veracity of its content. They simply look at the title and the provider and roll their eyes. “Oh, this is from CNN,” or “Oh, this is from Breitbart.” And when we don’t read content, but simply judge the report based on the title and the provider, those habits become ingrained, and we become easier to manipulate.

Take the following example.

CNN reported a few days ago on a man who was deported to Iraq and subsequently died there.

He died after being deported to a country he didn’t know,” sobbed the CNN headline.

Iraqi national who’d lived whole life in US dies shortly after being deported to Iraq,” wailed an earlier CNN report.

Feel sorry for the poor soul. He had diabetes. He didn’t have medicine in Iraq. So what, if he had a lengthy criminal record?

Wait… what?

The type of criminal history Jimmy Aldaoud had was buried in the middle of the story, after a heartwrenching account of poor Jimmy’s inability to get insulin in Iraq, his lack of familiarity with the country, and his pleas to ICE to allow him to remain in the country where he committed numerous crimes.

Aldaoud had an extensive criminal history “that involved no less than 20 convictions between 1998-2017,” a Detroit ICE official told CNN, including assault with a dangerous weapon, domestic violence, contempt of court, failure to appear, breaking and entering, malicious destruction of a building, home invasion and possession of marijuana. His criminal history ultimately led to him being incarcerated and transferred to ICE custody in the early 2000s, Bajoka said.

By the time the reader reaches this vital information (if they even get past the first couple of paragraphs), their emotions have already been tweaked, they already have their bias against the heartless Trump confirmed, and they vent their rage on social media.

Things on the right are no better. On Twitter, readers are complaining that Aldaoud was here illegally, and therefore deserved to be deported, showing they never actually read the entire article or simply failed to understand it.

Example #2: Yahoo News recently published a report with the following headline:

Frightened by shootings, appalled at Trump, Americans are voting with their feet — to leave

There’s only one problem – that’s not what the story says.

Americans are not flocking to the exits, but some of them are thinking about it, and some are talking about it, and at least a few are acting on the idea. Google searches for terms like “how to move out of America” spiked this past weekend to levels not seen since November 2016, right after the presidential election, and last seen a decade ago during the Great Recession. And in dozens of interviews after the massacres in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, people who were born here spoke of their crystallizing desire to leave.

Let’s remember how many liberal celebrities promised to leave the country if Trump got elected.

The decidedly not funny “comedienne” niece of Chuck Schumer, Amy Schumer, the nutjob Chelsea Handler, Bryan Cranston of “Breaking Bad” fame, Cher, Samuel L. Jackson, who promised to move his black ass to South Africa where he would no doubt be allowed to victimize white people if he so chose, Miley Cyrus (why, oh why is that unhinged flake still around?), and scores of others were swearing off the United States and looking to leave. How many of those idiots are still around?

Point is, Americans are not voting with their feet, and they’re certainly not leaving the country, but the headline screams just that, and most readers won’t get past it before they stroke their confirmation biases about how Trump is dismantling the nation.

The media manipulation is pervasive and sometimes blatant, and the tech companies are using tools at their disposal to manipulate Americans into action by tweaking search results and drawing attention to particular stories, no matter how biased these reports are.

As Dr. Epstein indicated in his testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee, the results of his research showed a dangerous trend in voter manipulation.

On Election Day in 2018, the “Go Vote” reminder Google displayed on its home page gave one political party between800,000 and 4.6 million more votes than it gave the other party.Those numbers might seem impossible, but I published my analysis in January 2019 (Epstein, 2019a),and it is quite conservative. Google’s data analysts presumably performed the same calculations I did before the company decided to post its prompt. In other words,Google’s“Go Vote” prompt was not a public service; it was a vote manipulation.

In the weeks leading up to the 2018 election, bias in Google’s search results may have shifted upwards of 78.2 million votes to the candidates of one political party (spread across hundreds of local and regional races). This number is based on data captured by my 2018 monitoring system, which preserved more than 47,000 election-related searches on Google, Bing, and Yahoo, along with the nearly 400,000 web pages to which the search results linked. Strong political bias toward one party was evident, once again,in Google searches (Epstein & Williams, 2019).

I urge you to read the entire testimony. It’s a fascinating and appalling read that documents unbiased research – from an admittedly leftist source – that should give everyone pause. Yes, we know the media is biased. Yes, we know tech companies are biased. We’ve amply covered the deplatforming and silencing of conservative voices over the past couple of years on this blog.

But this is more than that. This is underhanded manipulation based on the Russians’ (and the Soviets’ before them) model of undermining the society of the West – and their own people – to achieve predetermined results.

Google, Facebook, and others have become the very thing they claim to despise: purveyors of misinformation and disinformation and manipulators of audiences to achieve a predetermined election result.

Google’s “autocomplete search” suggestions can turn the tide of an election – transforming a 50/50 split into a 90/10 without the people’s awareness, according to Epstein’s research. And Google has likely been determining the outcomes of upwards of 25 percent of the national elections worldwide since at least 2015.

Care to know what company was the sole largest contributor to Hillary Clinton’s campaign in 2016?

It’s not that I’m advocating for government control of Big Tech, social media, and media outlets writ large. Absolutely NOT! I do, however, think it’s healthy to expose the continued manipulation and start countering it – in our schools, in our households, and in person.

Welcome Instapundit readers!

Featured image courtesy of Pixabay; Pixabay License free for commercial use.

Written by

Marta Hernandez is an immigrant, writer, editor, science fiction fan (especially military sci-fi), and a lover of freedom, her children, her husband and her pets. She loves to shoot, and range time is sacred, as is her hiking obsession, especially if we’re talking the European Alps. She is an avid caffeine and TWD addict, and wants to own otters, sloths, wallabies, koalas, and wombats when she grows up.

  • Joe R. says:

    “Influencers” are NOT.

    Nothing is more b.s. POS (D)angerous to the American electoral system than vote stealing (cough* ballot harvesting).

    They all need to be hunted down and locked up.

    • Marta Hernandez says:

      I still don’t understand the concept of an “influencer,” to be completely honest with you. Maybe I’m just not cool enough?

  • Synova says:

    There were a lot of “news” stories about people terrified that their children were going to get drafted in 2004 as well.

    No chance whatsoever that anyone was going to institute a draft, but that didn’t make the news, only the “fear” reported by a few people who were interviewed (at least one of whom turned out to be some sort of Democrat operative.)

    It’s okay to report things that aren’t true, it seems, so long as you find an hysterical person to quote.

  • Skillyboo says:

    You say, to be fair, that it is not only the left leaning media outlets slanting stories or burying the truth deep within the story but also right learners like Breitbart. Yes you are right but when you take the cumulative totals of right versus left leaning, websites search engines and social media platforms the scales are so unbalanced. And we on the right always point out our ‘right’ leaning sites to show how we recognize their bias yet the left makes no apologies for theirs. And then we have the indoctrination camps masking as public schools which are, or should I say have, rewriting our history. Ask a child what 9/11 means and when they shrug their shoulders explain it and the likely response will be “yeah I heard something about that.”

    • Marta Hernandez says:

      This is not a comparison, and it wasn’t intended to be. There are people out there who cite Gateway Pundit as a “news source” without any irony. I find that infinitely amusing. That said, the point is manipulation of data, rather than “oh, the left is so much worse than we are.”

      • Skillyboo says:

        You’re correct, manipulation is the issue. Yes both sides of the political spectrum do it. And yes we are the worse for it. Conservative media is manipulating and we, rightfully so, acknowledge that. Yet very, very few on the left do the same about their biases. So, when some conservative points out conservative media bias it’s repeated almost verbatim by left media as an affirmation that conservatives lie and they expose it so, ergo, believe us not them. Now flip the coin. They hardly ever admit their biased journalism and their followers almost never follow conservative media thus conservatives are ‘shot’ with the ammunition they provided the left. So I say shut up, admit to nothing and in every sound bite you give expose them for their hypocrisy, lying and media manipulation. Let them start having to explain and apologize and backtrack for a change.

  • Bevo says:

    The thing to keep in mind is 1. read as much as you can. 2. Only “trust” what you can verify by multiple sources. 3. Even then you could be misjudging the issue/information.

  • GWB says:

    There’s a lot of gullibility. Yes. It’s a lack of critical thinking.
    I know that I often read just a headline. But I hover my mouse and check the link. My interpretation of that headline isn’t just a ‘left’ or ‘right’ source thing, but a “I know that source is snarky” or “I know that source is a sensationalist” or “I know that source is over-wrought on this or that subject.” It’s also often “I know what that article is likely to say and I don’t need to waste my time reading it again.”

    I don’t mind so much that Google is political. I mind that their useful function (the search engine) is used to keep me from seeing the full truth (or even the full spectrum of ideas). If I go look in the library card catalog concerning a subject, I want to know all the books that pertain, not just the ones the librarian thought were appropriate. (I actually once quoted a kids book for a research paper. It was relevant and accurate.)

    What they’re doping with their ‘curating’ is lying. And THAT annoys me considerably.

  • Jim T. says:

    Google’s activity here constitutes the largest campaign of fraud in world history. There’s also an active cover up operation going on at Google, with many Google representatives having already appeared in Congress and deliberately lied about their company’s behavior in manipulating search results.

    For the record, I am a software engineer so I am deeply interested in what Google has been doing. Their pursuit of AI technology, coupled with a desire to mislead the American (and World) public is a threat to human freedom that can hardly be overstated. AI is essentially the nuclear weaponry of the 21st century (actually far more dangerous), and to let this technology be developed by entities hostile to American interests is legitimately frightening.

    The end game for companies such as Google is not just manipulating votes. Google’s end game is to replace the government. Sister company Facebook has been proposing recently to issue its own form of currency which will allow it to establish a parallel economy to the US dollar, for example. All of these companies have their own pseudo-police force that act to assess and judge the activity of people online.

    As parallel-government entities we must look objectively at what type of rulers these corporations make. The ethics of the Silicon Valley Left are not rooted in those silly things like due process & rule of law. Take a look at how Google & Facebook treat alternative political perspectives:

    Right leaning perspectives are routinely demonetized or banned on YouTube.
    Right leaning news sources are suppressed via blacklists & neocensorship algorithms on their News feed and search results.
    The rules as stated are arbitrary and violated routinely.
    Google regularly brags that it has removed literally millions of videos and pages from its services, but there is never a disclosure of precisely which videos have been removed or an account of the supposed rules violations.
    The public has a right to know precisely who, why, and how voices are being removed from our public discourse. But Google doesn’t care.

    There are no legitimate ways to petition for change or appeal unjust behavior. Similarly, the Silicon Valley Left does not acknowledge natural rights enshrined in our Constitution. Google even routinely changes the so-called “Terms of Service” that define the contract between a person and a Google service. But most fascinatingly, Google acts retroactively, such that creators are constantly bewildered by the terms of this supposed contract. The Ex Post Facto law, which is outlawed in the United States, is the De Facto law of Google, since your behavior, logged in perpetuity in Google’s all-pervasive surveillance state, can get you banned today under the ever-shifting terms.

    Government control of this technology would be bad, but throwing up our hands and doing nothing is worse. Someone who refuses to act to reign in the fraudulent & abusive behavior of the Tech Tyrants is surrendering the integrity of our government and the rights of all people to the whims of a criminal syndicate that has gone unchecked for too long. Bad laws and executive action can be corrected via our court system, but if millions of Americans are silenced (or manipulated) into creating a Vichy government, we can’t take that back.

    We need a Digital Bill of Rights to enshrine rights that are important for freedom in the 21st century, and we need decisive and immediate action to ensure our political system is not captured in the meantime.

  • Todd Gunther says:

    This isn’t anything new…

    Dan Rather, Cokie Roberts, and a few other journ-O-lists likely caused the entire Florida recount and nearly put Al Gore over the top in 2000, simply by stating on air a few times that the polls in the Central Time Zone Florida’s panhandle were about to close while they were still remained open…

  • polijunkie100 says:

    Google providing this service is an in-kind campaign contribution. DoJ, FEC, and Congress should investigate!

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