Trump Floats Another Debunked Conspiracy Theory About 'the Internets'
A lot people (not me, but a lot, a lot of people) are saying Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump loves a good conspiracy theory; he’s suggested former rival Ted Cruz’s father was involved in John F. Kennedy’s assassination, insisted global warming is a “hoax invented by the Chinese” to hurt American industry and pushed—for five years—a racist theory that President Barack Obama was born in Kenya.
At a rally Wednesday, Trump added Google to his list of people, places and things colluding to deprive the world of his sterling leadership, peddling a debunked theory that the tech company is suppressing bad news about Clinton in an effort to sink Trump’s presidency.
"A new post-debate poll that just came out, the Google poll, has us leading Hillary Clinton by two points nationwide, and that's despite the fact that Google search engine was suppressing the bad news about Hillary Clinton," Trump said at at a speech in Wisconsin. "How about that. How about that.”
For those who’ve never heard of “the Google poll,” as the Washington Post notes, Trump was likely referring to a Google Consumer Survey run by Independent Journal Review, a viral conservative-leaning website that’s been described as a cross between the Drudge Report and Upworthy. In that survey (it’s a survey, not a poll) Trump led Clinton by 1.7 points. As the Post notes, “they’re built to be inexpensive, easy to set up and quick to deliver results.”
So maybe not the most accurate methodology for determining who will win the election. But what about the latter part of Trump’s statement, that “Google search engine was suppressing the bad news about Hillary Clinton”? That theory dates back to the primaries, when a viral video by the “news…sort of” site Sourcefed claimed Google is hiding bad news about Clinton. Sourcefed submitted that since the autocomplete function in the Google search bar doesn’t automatically return “Hillary Clinton Indictment” when users search for the Democratic nominee, the algorithm must be rigged.
Several news organizations debunked Sourcefed’s conspiracy theory, and the tech company immediately released a statement promising "Google autocomplete does not favor any candidate or cause”:
“Claims to the contrary simply misunderstand how autocomplete works. Our autocomplete algorithm will not show a predicted query that is offensive or disparaging when displayed in conjunction with a person's name. More generally, our autocomplete predictions are produced based on a number of factors including the popularity of search terms.”
Unsurprisingly, the function of algorithms did not take center stage during Trump’s speech Wedneday night.