As the Democratic and Republican primaries in the U.S. near their end and the conventions approach, a number of candidates' campaigns have bitten the dust and tensions are high among all parties. Naturally, with the immense social and political power that tech companies wield by virtue of how they operate, it's only natural for allegations to make the rounds that they may be engaging in politically-charged actions to aid one side or the other. One such allegation comes courtesy of online news outlet SourceFed, who have accused Google of altering search results to bury negative stories about Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.
SourceFed published a video on YouTube that showed Google's search engine pulling Autocomplete results when Hillary Clinton's name began to be typed along with certain terms. When typing in "Hillary Clinton Cri", searchers are given "crime reform" as one of the top results, whereas other services show "criminal charges" among the top results. Since this could be caused by more people on Google searching for "crime reform", SourceFed took to Google Trends to show the figures for each. While "crime reform" didn't show enough searches to generate a trend graph, "crimes" had plenty and showed rich trend data. Likewise, "Hillary Clinton in" returned "Indiana" and "India", rather than the much more popular "indictment". Search results for "Bernie Sanders Soc" pulled up "socialism", just like on the other services, and a search for "Donald Trump Rac" pulled up "racism". According to the video, Eric Schmidt, chairman of Alphabet, has ties to an investment company with the goal of helping Hillary make it to the White House.
Google's webspam team leader, Matt Cutts, took to Twitter to fire back, saying the claims were "simply false". For starters, he suggested that many people are searching for news about Hillary Clinton simply by Hillary instead of her first and last name. When searching "Hillary Cri", you get "criminal email", and when searching "Hillary in", you get "indictment", supporting Cutts' answer. He also pointed to a Vox article that showed that Google refrains from suggesting "crime" or "crimes", even for those who are only famous because of the crimes they stood accused of, such as Bernie Madoff. An article on Medium was also pointed out, showing that SourceFed failed to point out that similar "suppression" is going on concerning Donald Trump. As a final comeback, Cutts alleged that SourceFed failed to reach out to Google before publishing their video. In the final Tweet of the argument, Cutts specifically called out Matt Lieberman of SourceFed, featured in the video, and said, "this is a super-technical area. Why make a long video of these claims without doing deeper research? It's just not true."