Dr. Robert Epstein, a psychologist who studies search engine manipulation effects (SEME), has warned that Facebook and Google could shift as many as 12 million votes in the 2018 mid-term elections. A new Recode analysis of employee contributions at tech companies in the 2018 cycle revealed a massive disparity in favor of Democrats. Given recent news that Google attempted to interfere in political issues, this should concern Americans.
“If Silicon Valley were only selling shoes, I don’t think we should be worried,” Epstein told PJ Media on Thursday. “But what they are able to do, no industry in the history of humankind has ever been able to do. And therefore we should be very concerned.”
“We have strong evidence of partisanship, and they have access to tools for manipulating opinions and votes that we can’t even see,” the psychologist warned. In September, he published an article in The Epoch Times outlining 10 ways Big Tech can shift millions of votes — without anyone knowing. Google can impact opinion by placing search results, by offering search suggestions, and by censoring results. Facebook can bias its trending box, users’ news feeds, hide content, and send voter registration reminders.
Google employees have even referenced “ephemeral experiences,” showing that they know the kind of power they have. Tech companies have many opportunities to present to users unique experiences that have no record — users cannot trace them after the fact, so it is almost impossible to examine the full effect such content has.
Epstein has caught Google manipulating its search engine to favor political candidates in the past. His analysis of the 2016 election revealed that Google’s bias in Hillary Clinton’s favor was likely responsible for most of her win margin in the popular vote. He supported Clinton in that election, but he is far more concerned about the integrity of American elections.
“I think we should be very concerned,” Epstein told PJ Media. “I’m not a conservative but I’m very concerned with fairness in elections.” The impacts of companies like Facebook and Google “are invisible to people and they don’t leave paper trails.”
Besides Epstein’s results, Google employees have admitted to engaging in political manipulation. After the 2016 election, the company’s former head of multicultural marketing, Eliana Murillo, bragged about increasing Latino turnout in 2016, expecting that to help Democrats. In September, The Wall Street Journal reportedthat Google employees tweaked the search engine function to counter President Donald Trump’s travel ban.
More chillingly, Epstein referenced an internal video Google developed known as “The Selfish Ledger,” a video revealing Google’s knowledge of just how much it can impact human behavior. This video “outlines and acknowledges the company’s ability to shape humankind,” the psychologist explained.
In light of all this, Recode’s report that employee donations from influential tech companies are heavily skewed toward Democrats should worry all Americans, not just Republicans. Recode’s Rani Molla analyzed data from the Center for Responsive Politics and found that employees from all sorts of technology companies donated heavily in favor of Democrats.
Netflix employees gave $321,000 to candidates, 99.6 percent of that to Democrats. Twitter workers gave $228,000 to candidates, 98.7 percent to Democrats. Apple employees gave $1,218,000 to candidates, 97.5 percent to Democrats.
Employees at Google and its parent company Alphabet gave $3,742 — 96 percent to Democrats. Workers at Facebook gave more than $1 million, 94.5 percent to Democrats. Amazon employees gave $971,000, 89.3 percent to Democrats.