Google CEO Sundar Pichai testifies before the House Judiciary Committee at the Rayburn House Office Building on December 11, 2018 in Washington, DC. The committee held a hearing on 'Transparency & Accountability: Examining Google and its Data Collection, Use and Filtering Practices."Alex Wong/Getty Images
Google CEO Sundar Pichai was forced to explain to the US Congress as to why the term 'idiot' on Google Images showed pictures of US President Donald Trump.
Pichai was in Washington, DC. on Tuesday to defend his company against allegations of political bias and manipulating content at House Judiciary Committee. Republicans allege that search results were manipulated for political gain.
Pichai was questioned by US Democratic lawmaker Zoe Lofgren on why this occurs. She said, "Right now if you Google the word 'idiot' under images, a picture of Donald Trump comes up. I just did that."
She then asked, Pichai, "How would that happen? How does search work so that would occur?"
Rep. Steve Chabot, R-Ohio asked, "How do you explain this apparent bias on Google's part against conservative points of view, against conservative policies? Is it just the algorithm, or is there more happening there?"
According to a report by the Washington Post, Pichai said, "Congressman, I understand the frustration of seeing negative news, and, you know, I see it on me. What is important here is we use the robust methodology to reflect what is being said about any given topic at any particular time. And we try to do it objectively, using a set of rubrics. It is in our interest to make sure we reflect what's happening out there in the best objective manner possible. I can commit to you, and I can assure you we do it without regards to political ideology. Our algorithms have no notion of political sentiment in it."
However, the lawmakers present there did not buy his explanation that certain algorithms take into account multiple factors to come up with search results. They also could not believe that algorithms could not be changed by the authorised staff at Google.
Lofgren went on to ask, "So it's not some little man sitting behind the curtain figuring out what we're going to show the user. It's basically a compilation of what users are generating, and trying to sort through that information?"
Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) asked Pichai if he ever directed any of his staff to manipulate search results for which Google CEO replied that it was impossible for not only one but a group of people to authorise that due to the number of steps involved in the process.
Smit replied to this saying, "Let me just say, I disagree. I think humans can manipulate the process. It is a human process at its base."
The Republicans have been accusing Google of political bias for a while. President Donald Trump tweeted in August that if anyone conducted a Google search on 'Trump News', reports by 'fake news media' came up as the top results.