Google employees brainstormed ways to alter search functions to counter the Trump administration’s 2017 travel ban, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday, citing internal emails.
Google employees discussed how they could tweak the company’s search-related functions to show users how to contribute to pro-immigration organizations and contact lawmakers and government agencies, the Journal said.
The ideas were not implemented.
President Donald Trump’s travel ban temporarily barred visitors and immigrants from seven majority Muslim countries. Trump said the travel ban was needed to protect the United States against attacks by Islamist militants, and the Supreme Court upheld the measure in June.
The Google employees proposed ways to ‘leverage’ search functions and take steps to counter what they considered to be ‘islamophobic, algorithmically biased results from search terms “Islam,” “Muslim,” “Iran,” etc.’ and ‘prejudiced, algorithmically biased search results from search terms “Mexico,” “Hispanic,” “Latino,” etc,’ the Journal added, quoting from the emails.
A Google spokesperson said the emails represented brainstorming and none of the ideas were implemented.
She said the company does not manipulate search results or modify products to promote political views.
‘Our processes and policies would not have allowed for any manipulation of search results to promote political ideologies,’ the spokesperson said in a statement.
The news is likely to confirm suspicions among conservatives that tech companies like Google, Twitter, and Facebook have a liberal bias.
California will join other states planning to participate in a meeting organized by the U.S. Justice Department to discuss concerns about conservative voices being stifled on social media, the state’s attorney general said last week.
The Justice Department said it had invited a bipartisan group of 24 state attorneys general to attend the Sept. 25 meeting.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions called the meeting after Trump criticized social media outlets for what he said was unfair treatment of conservatives.
Lawmakers in both the House of Representatives and the Senate held hearings this month to grill executives of social media companies about their handling of conservative voices online.