Google CEO Sundar Pichai brushed off questions Wednesday before the House Judiciary subcommittee on antitrust related to the tech giant’s apparent blacklisting of conservative groups last week when about a dozen major websites were temporarily de-platformed.
“I will have to look into it,” Pichai said in response to a question from Republican Congressman Gregory Steube over the episode, going on to claim there are “more conservative voices than ever before” on the platform.
“Can I expect a response from you, say in the next two weeks, as to why that occurred?” Steube pushed.
“Congressman, we’ll do our best to follow up and I’ll engage with your office,” Pichai said.
The websites targeted in last week’s blacklisting, according to NewsBusters which itself was temporarily de-platformed last week, included the Washington Free Beacon, The Blaze, Townhall, The Daily Wire, PragerU, LifeNews, Project Veritas, Judicial Watch, The Resurgent, Breitbart, the Media Research Center, and CNSNews among others.
Chuck Ross, a journalist with the Daily Caller News Foundation, observed that his employer’s website was also included in the blackout when searches for stories related to Stefan Halper, an FBI informant who spied on the Trump campaign in Crossfire Hurricane was unmasked by his reporting came up blank.
An experiment on whether Google is blocking search results for conservative sites. Randomly picked Stefan Halper as a search term. NYT and WaPo have 96 returns combined. No results on @DailyCaller, though we've probably published his name 100 times. pic.twitter.com/5xUZaiZQeH
— Chuck Ross (@ChuckRossDC) July 21, 2020
NewsBusters reported that the websites impacted by the Google blackout were still organically available on Bing, Yahoo, and DuckDuckGo.
Steube’s questioning and the recent episodes of censorship come just one month after Google threatened to demonetize The Federalist following a report from NBC’s “Verification Unit” compiled in collusion with a foreign left-wing think tank. While NBC first reported Google de-platformed The Federalist for its coverage of the riots sweeping American cities, the company released a statement that it was merely threatening the conservative website to take action for content in its comment section, not its published commentary.
In a statement to The Federalist last week, Google claimed the recent blacklisting of conservative websites were a simple technical error, and not a deliberate attempt to censor certain content or sites. It is not possible to independently confirm whether Google’s offered explanation is accurate.