from the lies-lies-lies dept
While politics isn't generally a topic we dive into around here, technology policy and issues certainly are. And, since presidential election cycles infect every conceivable topic like a wine stain spreading across your favorite couch, we've talked about the two mainstream candidates quite a bit recently. And I get the complaints from all sides against both candidates, but it's become somewhat breathtaking to watch Donald Trump build a campaign in large part on nonsensical and easily debunked conspiracy theories, such as how the planned internet governance transition will cede control of the web to China and Russia, or that are current sitting President might be a secret communist Muslim clay-person, but maybe not.
And, of course, there is the constant claim of victim-hood at the hands of that damned liberal establishment, which now apparently includes Google. Some background for you is in order. Over the summer, a really dumb video went viral after claiming to show that Google was manipulating autocomplete searches to keep any bad press out of the results for searches about Hillary Clinton. Compared with Bing, for instance, Google's autocomplete failed to finish off a search for "Hillary Clinton cr" with "Hillary Clinton crimes", instead completing as "Hillary Clinton Crimea." While your drunk uncle lost his goddamned mind over a conspiracy surely proven, Google chimed in to note that it specifically designed its autocomplete feature to keep disparaging results from anyone's name, not just Hill-Dog's. This was easily shown by putting in "Donald Trump cr", which likewise autocompleted as "Donald Trump Crimea."
And that really should have been the end of that. But, because Donald Trump's campaign isn't one to pass on a good chem-trails story, its candidate tried to deflect a general panning of his debate performance by repeating this already disproved accusation.
While discussing polling numbers at a rally in Wisconsin on Wednesday, Donald Trump offhandedly accused Google of manipulating search results in favor of rival Hillary Clinton, because hey, why not?
“The Google poll has us leading Hillary by two points nationwide,” said Trump. “And that’s despite the fact that Google’s search engine was suppressing the bad news about Hillary Clinton, how about that? How about that?”
I'm always reminded of a supposed quote from Michael Jordan back in the 90's when a reporter asked him why he didn't endorse political candidates, despite such an endorsement being so potentially powerful. His response was supposedly something along the lines of: "Because Republicans buy gym shoes, too." Imagine for a moment if Google, in the business of making money essentially by getting as many people as possible to use its search engine, decided to alienate roughly half of the American population by trying to dick around with search results for a political candidate. It would literally have to hate money to take such an action. Anyone think that Google hates money?
And, separately, I know that politicians generally lie, and have for quite some time, but it used to be that a candidate for president wouldn't simply be able to say something easily refuted and get away with it. I don't mean refuted in a murky way that can be debated. This conspiracy theory that Trump is continuing to raise has been debunked. It isn't a real thing. Yet he continues to repeat it. Some in the media may even call him out on the lie, but those that do will be accused of liberal bias and the whole thing will feed the playback loop.
This can't be a good method for picking our national leaders.