Donald Trump on Wednesday night pushed an unproven conspiracy theory that Google suppresses negative search results about Hillary Clinton.
“The Google poll has us leading Hillary Clinton by two points nationwide, and that’s despite the fact that Google search engine was suppressing the bad news about Hillary Clinton,” he said at a rally in Wisconsin, apparently referencing a Independent Journal Review-Google Consumer Surveys poll, according to the New York Times. “How about that?”
The Times notes that the conspiracy theory gained traction with a video from conservative site SourceFed in June. The video shows someone testing search engines with the phrase “Hillary Clinton cri,” and notes that while other sites will suggest the word “criminal,” Google does not. The video earned coverage in conservative news outlets and was resurfaced by Sputnik News earlier this month, but Google has denied that its search engine algorithm favors any particular candidate.
Rhea Drysdale, the CEO of Outspoken Media, a search engine optimization company, told CNN last year that SourceFed chose misleading examples to prove its theory. And Google told CNN at the time that the search engine eliminates words when combined with a person’s name.
Our autocomplete algorithm will not show a predicted query that is offensive or disparaging when displayed in conjunction with a person’s name,” a Google spokeswoman told CNN. “Google autocomplete does not favor any candidate or cause. Claims to the contrary simply misunderstand how autocomplete works.”
And last year Amit Singhal, who led Google’s search division at the time, also shot down the theory. He wrote in Politico that there is “absolutely no truth” to theories that Google “could work secretly to influence election outcomes.”