A former Google employee has gone public with claims of election manipulation, intimidation, and political bias at the hands of the tech giant, including the “blacklisting” of certain websites, including The Christian Post.
On Wednesday, investigative journalism group Project Veritas released an interview in which whistleblower Zachary Vorhies reveals he delivered roughly 950 pages of documents to the Department of Justice’s Antitrust division demonstrating that Google manipulated its algorithms in a way that biased its search engine against conservative media, Christian media and nonprofit groups, and Republicans.
A Google employee for eight years, Vorhies — who refers to his situation as “David and Google,” a reference to the Old Testament story of David and Goliath — said he decided to come forward after realizing something “dark and nefarious” was going on with the company.
“I saw that they were making really quick moves ... that they were intending to sculpt the information landscape so that they could create their own version of what was objectively true,” he said. “I realized that they were going to not only tamper with the elections, but use that tampering with the elections to essentially overthrow the United States.”
The documents released by Vorhies included a “news blacklist site for Google Now” which he explained is a blacklist that restricts certain websites from appearing on news feeds for some Android Google products.
The list includes a number of websites, including The Christian Post, Newsbusters, Life News, Patheos, and Glenn Beck among hundreds of others. According to the document, some sites are listed because of a “high user block rate.”
“These documents were available to every single employee within the company that was full time,” Vorhies said. “And so as a full-time employee at the company, I just searched for some keywords and these documents started to pop up. And so once I started finding one document and started finding keywords for other documents, and I would enter that in and continue this cycle until I had a treasure trove and archive of documents that clearly spelled out the system, what they’re attempting to do in very clear language.”
Vorhies said it’s “clear” that Google has a political bias, adding that the tech company is “playing both sides of the game.”
“On one hand, they’re saying that they are a platform and that they are immune from being sued for the content they host on their websites,” he said. “On the other hand, they’re acting as a publisher in which they’re deterring the editorial agenda of these certain companies and they're applying that. If people don’t fall in line with their editorial agenda, their news articles get de-ranked. And if people do fall in line with their editorial agenda, it gets boosted and pushed to the top.”
Vorhies first spoke with Project Veritas anonymously back in June, when he leaked a number of internal Google documents revealing “algorithmic unfairness” in search rankings. In one document, a Google employee and member of Google's “transparency-and-ethics” group refers to conservative and libertarian commentators, including Dennis Prager and Ben Shapiro, as “nazis.”
In a video of the interview, Vorhies warned Google is “not an objective source of information.”
Interviewer James O' Keefe then typed the words "men can" and "women can" in the search bar. The suggestions for men can included phrases like: “men can have babies,” “men can get pregnant,” and “men can have periods,” while the phrases for women can include: “women can vote,” “women can do anything,” and “women can be drafted.”
“It’s part of the social justice narrative,” Vorhies said.
Also in the video, Google employee and head of Responsible Innovation, Jen Gennai, said, "We have gotten accusations on around fairness is that we're unfair to conservatives because we're choosing what we define as credible news sources. And those sources don't necessarily overlap with conservative sources, so we're getting accusations of fair from one side."
The Christian Post contacted Google for comment explaining why this news outlet and other media and pro-life websites were on their internal blacklist for Google Now. We will update this article when a response is received.
In the latest Project Veritas video, Vorhies revealed that after he initially came forward, Google sent him a letter containing several “demands” and ordering him to “cease and desist.”
After having been identified by an anonymous account on social media as a “leaker,” Vorhies was approached by law enforcement at his residence and received a call from Google which prompted a “wellness check.”
Vorhies also claimed Google attempted to establish that he had a mental problem — which he said is a common way the company intimidates former employees who “go rogue.”
Other Google employees are “scared” of the company’s practices, Vorhies said. He called for greater transparency from Google, adding: “I’m hoping that those who want to do something will be compelled to act.”
“If I didn’t do this, then I’d have to live with myself for the rest of my life,” he said. “People aren’t going to understand what I’m talking about until they see the documents, but it’s really that bad.”
After the release of Project Veritas’ initial Google investigation, Gennai posted on Medium saying: “Google has repeatedly been clear that it works to be a trustworthy source of information, without regard to political viewpoint. In fact, Google has no notion of political ideology in its rankings.”
Watch the video below.