Thursday, November 17, 2022
Over a period of months, Google nudged undecided voters toward voting blue by showing people politically biased content in their search engine, suppressing content they didn’t want people to see, recommending left-leaning videos on YouTube (pdf) (which Google owns), allegedly sending tens of millions of emails to people’s spam boxes, and sending go-vote reminders on their home page mainly to liberal and moderate voters.
These manipulations (and others) don’t affect voters with strong points of view, but they can have an enormous impact on voters who are undecided (pdf)—the people who decide the outcomes of close elections.
I know Google did these things (and more!) because, in 2022, my team and I were doing to them exactly what they do to us and our kids 24/7: We were monitoring the politically related content that Google and other tech companies were showing to actual voters—our politically diverse panel of 2,742 “field agents,” who were located mainly in swing states.
In particular, we were tracking what Google employees call “ephemeral experiences”—content that appears briefly, affects people, and then disappears. In 2018, in emails that leaked from the company, Googlers were discussing how they might use ephemeral experiences to change people’s views about Trump’s travel ban. They know how powerful ephemeral experiences can be. That’s one of the most closely held secrets of Google’s management.
Ephemeral content is ideal for manipulation purposes. If you get a go-vote reminder on Google’s home page (see the image below for an actual go-vote reminder sent to a liberal voter on Election Day), how would you know whether anyone else was getting it? You wouldn’t, and if you didn’t receive such a reminder, how would you know that anyone else had?
Via links that began with Glenn at Instapundit.
This is Richard Epstein, a distinguished PhD psychologist who used to work anyway out of the greater San Diego area.
BTW and speaking of conspiracy theories, check out how his girlfriend died tragically when she borrowed his car and the brakes failed mysteriously. This was after he became one of Google's most outspoken critics. Just sayin'. Google Richard Epstein Joe Rogan. https://open.spotify.com/episode/4q0cNkAHQQMBTu4NmeNW7E
I've looked at the local news reports and Dr. Epstein's story seems to check out as far as that goes. But it was probably just a coincidence, and it's one of the things that makes be happy to be obscure.