More than two-thirds of polled conservative voters said that sites like Google lean distinctly leftward.
A total of 67% of surveyed Republicans think that Google search results favor Democrats. 22% do not believe there is any notable bias, and 9% think the bias might actually be working in their favor.
Democrats largely believe the system in place is neutral, at 66%, while 13% admitted that tech giants might favor their party and 15% suggested that the search engines gave right-leaning results more than their due.
Independent voter results did not quite match either side but agreed that search engines were biased against conservatives by a more than 2-to-1 margin. For the most part, however, they believe that the results are fair.
Only Democrats are strong in their belief in the fairness of the system. Most adults, young and old, are relatively certain that this is not the case. President Donald Trump, of course, is one of them.
“Google search results for ‘Trump News’ shows only the viewing/reporting of Fake News Media,” he tweeted on August 28. “In other words, they have it RIGGED, for me & others, so that almost all stories & news is BAD.”
He called the trend “very dangerous,” accusing “Google and others” of “suppressing voices of Conservatives and hiding information and news that is good.” He concluded by promising to address that “situation,” though it is unclear precisely what he meant by that.
Google has denied the allegations, but Dr. Robert Epstein of the American Institute for Behavioral Research (AIBRT) disputes their rebuttal. After his experiments showed a distinct trend toward positive coverage of former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton — and negative inclinations toward Trump — Epstein said:
Google tries to explain away such findings by saying its search bar is programmed to avoid suggesting searches that portray people in a negative light. As far as we can tell, this claim is false; Google suppresses negative suggestions selectively, not across the board.
According to the Axios poll, a majority of overall Americans still fear that the government will not do enough to regulate the way these tech companies control information. The number is down slightly because even Democrats have begun to worry more about overreach instead.
The public demands for regulation of tech companies has cooled a bit. But the distrust of search engines like Google from the right — fueled in part by President Trump’s complaints — deepens the broader doubts that social media portrays information objectively.