Google CEO Sundar Pichai. Image: Sam Churchill on Flickr

Digital Spaces, Social Media

Google Boss warns employees: Stay out of politics

Connor James Ibbetson, Editor-at-large
@connoribbetson

A leaked memo from the internet supergiant Google warns employees to stay nonpartisan.

In an email that has been seen by The Wall Street Journal and many other news outlets, Sundar Pichai, Google’s chief executive warned those working at Google to avoid allowing political opinions in their work.

“We do not bias our products to favor any political agenda” Pichai said to his staff.

The memo follows a controversial report, again in WSJ, about leaked Google emails in which employees discussed ways of countering the Trump administration travel ban.

The employees reportedly debated how they could “leverage” results for certain topics for what they considered to be “”islamophobic, algorithmically biased results from search terms ‘Islam’, ‘Muslim’, ‘Iran’, etc.”

“The trust our users place in us is our greatest asset and we must always protect it. If any Googler ever undermines that trust, we will hold them accountable.” The latest email to Google staff read.

“Recent news stories reference an internal email to suggest that we would compromise the integrity of our search results for a political end,” Pichai reportedly says in his correspondence. “This is absolutely false.”

More bad press for Alphabet and Google

Leaked emails were just the start of another bad week for Google. Last week, a video of Google co-founder Sergey Brin was published, in the video Brin calls says that he is offended by the results of the 2016 US Presidential election.

The video was published by Breitbart [https://www.breitbart.com/tech/2018/09/12/leaked-video-google-leaderships-dismayed-reaction-to-trump-election/], and has helped fuel Trump supporters resentment of ‘big tech’ companies – who they see as being biased against them and Donald Trump.

“Let’s face it, most people here are pretty upset and pretty sad because of the election,” Brin says in the video. “As an immigrant and a refugee, I find this election deeply offensive, and I’m sure many of you do too.”

Pichai, who was also present in the video, chimed in “There is a lot of fear within Google. I’ve gotten a lot of emails … there are people who are very afraid,”

“I grew up in India and there were many things wrong, but it was a democratic country and we’ve gone through many, many, many hairy moments like this.”

A report in Bloomberg has pointed to a piece of White House legislation designed to investigate these big tech companies. The potential executive order, in draft form says that it aims to “protect competition among online platforms and address online platform bias.” It goes on to order an investigation into “whether any online platform has acted in violation of the antitrust laws.”

The President himself has had a long standing issue with Google and other tech companies, often accusing them of bias in their search results – which Google denies.

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