On Tuesday morning, numerous conservative outlets, including Legal Insurrection, disappeared from Google search results.

During that time, the outlets appeared on searches on Bing, Yahoo, and DuckDuckGo.

The glitch hit Bongino Report, Breitbart, Drudge, Human Events, and Newsbusters. Chuck Ross at The Daily Caller noticed Google blocked his website. The Federalist mentioned the list included Washington Free Beacon, The Blaze, Townhall, and The Daily Wire.

It also hit Occupy Democrats, the only left-leaning website that disappeared.

Google released statements:

In a jargon-filled statement, Google said it was looking into the issue, but failed to offer any explanation. “We are aware of an issue with the site: command that may fail to show some or any indexed pages from a website,” the company said in a post published on Twitter Tuesday afternoon. “We are investigating this and any potentially related issues.”

In response to an inquiry from Mediaite, a spokesman for Google added, “This issue affected a number of sites representing a range of different content and viewpoints. This issue was a technical error unrelated to the content or ideology of the sites affected.”

Mike Wacker, a former Google engineer, told Mediaite: “It appears to have revealed the existence of another blacklist that disproportionately targets conservatives. The glitch is that sites on this blacklist disappeared from Google search results, but the existence of the list is very much by design. And that raises a major question: Why was this blacklist created in the first place, and what else is it used for?”

Wacker mentioned the list “may have been manually curated.” However, Google CEO Sundar Pichai told Congress in 2018 that “the company did not ‘manually intervene on any search result.'”

But Wacker suggested it could come from an algorithm, which “could have been created by a human.” If not, then “an AI that found something about the affected websites so offensive — such as the way users share their content, or the keywords used by those sites — that it blocked them.” He said:

“One possibility is that sites on this blacklist are being penalized, and the glitch was that the penalty was accidentally set so high that these sites were effectively removed from Google search,” Wacker said. “I’ve found that a lot of people tend to conflate algorithms with AI since they’re both automated, but AI isn’t as objective and mechanical as algorithms are.”

Dr. Robert Epstein agreed with Wacker:

Dr. Robert Epstein, a researcher who has argued Google has the power to sway up to 10 percent of American voters in the 2020 election, concurred with Wacker. “It’s likely that a person or algorithm at Google added ‘breitbart.com’ and other URLs to one or more of the company’s blacklists,” Epstein said. “Then, perhaps after some pushback, someone pulled those URLs off the blacklists.”

Google has faced scrutiny over search results. A former employee gave Project Veritas documents “that suggested the website was seeking to rank websites according to ‘quality.'” The employees placed Fox News below CNN and MSNBC.


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