Google workers reportedly tweaked algorithm for stories about immigration debate

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Google employees wanted to push users to pro-immigration groups in the days after the Trump administration launched its travel ban last year, according to a report posted Thursday night.

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In a series of emails cited by The Wall Street Journal, Google workers in early 2017 sought to “leverage” their massive worldwide power and fight what they saw as “islamophobic, algorithmically biased results from search terms ‘Islam’, ‘Muslim’, ‘Iran’, etc.” and “prejudiced, algorithmically biased search results from search terms ‘Mexico’, ‘Hispanic’, ‘Latino.’ ”

Some in the chain of emails occasionally cautioned against getting involved in a divisive political fight, the newspaper reported.

The company said none of the algorithm-tweaking suggestions proposed in the emails were ever implemented.

“These emails were just a brainstorm of ideas, none of which were ever implemented,” a Google spokeswoman said in a statement.

“Google has never manipulated its search results or modified any of its products to promote a particular political ideology—not in the current campaign season, not during the 2016 election, and not in the aftermath of President Trump’s executive order on immigration. Our processes and policies would not have allowed for any manipulation of search results to promote political ideologies.”

The Google emails were written on Sunday, Jan. 29 of last year, just two days after Trump signed the first version of his travel order, which severely restricted travel to the US from several predominantly Muslim countries.

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