As representatives from Google and other top tech companies prepared to take heat from an antitrust hearing in the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, Breitbart offered new ammo for some of the conservative House members to use while grilling CEO Sundar Pichai.
The widely read conservative site outlined several ways that the leading search engine had engaged in systemic anti-Right censorship since the 2016 election of Republican President Donald Trump.
The charges confirmed prior complaints from watchdog organizations like Project Veritas, but provided concrete evidence that might make the broadly generalized under-oath denials tech companies have made in past congressional hearings more difficult to pull off.
Breitbart noted that there were a variety ways in which the company—which also includes video site YouTube under its corporate umbrella—engaged in discriminatory practices, but it focused on the suppression of political searches as they related to its own site.
Using the SISTRIX Visibility Index, it revealed a massive drop-off of 99.7 percent since 2016.
“On April 4, 2016, Breitbart ranked in the top ten search positions (i.e., on the first page of Google search results) for 355 key search terms,” said the article.
“[B]ut now, as of July 20, 2020, Breitbart ranks in the top ten search positions for only one search term,” it continued.
Within the top 100 search results, it reported a drop from 16,820 results to only 55.
After three Google updates, “unless a user types ‘Breitbart’ into the search bar (and even then), they are highly unlikely to get any Breitbart content search results,” said the article.
As for other search terms, Google had wiped Breitbart from the results entirely.
“Breitbart search results for ‘Joe Biden’ and other Biden-related search terms have gone to zero,” it said. “Even if you specifically search for Breitbart News headlines, you are unlikely to find them in Google search.”
According to an anonymous expert in search-engine optimization, the drop-off appeared to be unprecedented.
“I’ve never experienced such a wholesale removal of rank and visibility on specific concepts on a site as I have seen being applied to Breitbart,” said the expert.
While Google and other top tech sites, such as Twitter and Facebook, often have tried to blame the suppression on non-human algorithmic calculations, such as page traffic, the data made such claims implausible.
It clearly showed that some form of human intervention, such as a blacklist or shadow ban of certain terms, was the true culprit.
“Removal is the key, not dropping in rank, which would be an organic devaluing,” said the expert. “These ranks are just simply gone, overnight, while other topics have been untouched.”
The suppression of information on one side posed the risk of having a very real effect when it comes to interfering with the upcoming election, said psychologist Robert Epstein, a former Hillary Clinton supporter who has spoken out publicly on the alarmingly illiberal practice.
“In 2020—if all these [big tech] companies are supporting the same candidate—there are 15 million votes on the line that can be shifted without people’s knowledge, and without leaving a paper trail for authorities to trace,” Epstein testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee last year.
Republicans have been blunt in their criticism as the censorship efforts in Silicon Valley have become more brazen of late.
“I’ll just cut to the chase, Big Tech’s out to get conservatives,” Rep. Jim Jordan said during Wednesday’s anti-trust hearing. “That’s not a suspicion. That’s not a hunch. That’s a fact.”
After Twitter began implementing questionable fact-checks on some of his tweets, President Trump announced an executive order in May saying that he would hold online platforms that engaged in partisan censorship accountable under the Communications Decency Act.
But one of the first tests of the new order failed when an activist judge dismissed a libel lawsuit by Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., that named Twitter as a defendant for permitting several parody accounts that misrepresented him and his family.
According to Epstein, the full scope of the corporations’ anti-conservative suppression efforts was likely incalculable, not only due to their misleading denials, but to the subversiveness of the tactics themselves.
“The methods that they’re using are invisible, they’re subliminal, they’re more powerful than most any effects I’ve ever seen in the behavioral sciences, he said. “And I’ve been in the behavioral sciences for almost 40 years.”