Google employees proposed changes to search function to foil Trump's travel ban

Google employees proposed changes to search function to foil Trump's travel ban

Shortly after U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order meant to drastically overhaul the country’s immigration policies, several tech giants raised concerns over its impact on their immigrant workers. For his part, Google CEO Sundar Pichai immediately recalled all potentially-affected employees to the U.S. Apart from the recall, Google’s employees appeared to have considered ways to combat the travel ban using the company’s web search function.

Based on an email correspondence between Google executives and employees, obtained by The Wall Street Journal, the search giant’s employees discussed making several tweaks to its search function to respond in retaliation to Trump’s travel ban. The emails were dated January 29, 2017, two days after the President signed his original travel order which banned visitors from Muslim-majority nations.

Google clarified that the proposed changes were only ideas that never materialized. The Mountain View-based company said in a statement to WSJ:

Google has never manipulated its search results or modified any of its products to promote a particular political ideology—not in the current campaign season, not during the 2016 election, and not in the aftermath of President Trump’s executive order on immigration. Our processes and policies would not have allowed for any manipulation of search results to promote political ideologies.

The goal of the proposed changes was to aid in pro-immigration groups and communicate with lawmakers and government agencies. In the emails, company executives floated the idea of countering anti-Islamic and anti-Hispanic search results while other ideas focused on allowing influential public figures to post texts on Google’s search results using an experimental project called Highlights.

With Google already being accused of political bias, the latest revelation is expected to heighten scrutiny of the search giant mainly by several Republicans who claim that the Alphabet-owned company is suppressing conservative worldviews in favor of liberal standpoints.

Source: The Wall Street Journal