Donald Trump, the Republican nominee for president, believes one of the world’s leading tech companies is plotting against him.
During a rally in Wisconsin on Wednesday, Trump embraced a conspiracy theory that he had only delicately danced around before. Google, he said, was keeping negative news on Hillary Clinton away from its users.
“The Google poll has us leading H.C. by 2 points nationwide,” Trump told the crowd. “And that’s despite the fact that Google’s search engine was suppressing the bad news about Hillary Clinton. How about that? How about that?”
Seriously, how about that?
The Google-is-helping-Clinton theory has actually been floating around for months. It started when a video on the site SourceFed appeared to show the Google search engine’s autocomplete function was filling in searches favorably for the Democratic candidate. Google explained the function had nothing to do with bias and was strictly about algorithms.
“Google Autocomplete does not favor any candidate or cause,” a statement from Google to Business Insider read. “Claims to the contrary simply misunderstand how Autocomplete works. Our Autocomplete algorithm will not show a predicted query that is offensive or disparaging when displayed in conjunction with a person’s name. More generally, our autocomplete predictions are produced based on a number of factors including the popularity of search terms.”
When this first surfaced, Trump didn’t fully embrace the conspiracy theory, saying only that if it were true it would be “a disgrace that Google would do that.” Why he now has decided to believe it isn’t quite clear.
As for that Google poll that Trump cited at the beginning of his remarks, it appears to be this one, which shows Trump ahead by a hair in the general election, but with Clinton having won Monday night’s debate.
As HuffPost Pollster’s Ariel Edwards-Levy notes, the Google survey is an outlier. The “Google poll” in question is a Google Consumer Survey ― a service provided by the web giant that allows customers to create their own polls.
Scientific polls conducted using online panels have shown a bigger win for Clinton in the debate.