Big Tech’s Greatest Threat, by Robert Epstein

The big tech companies, particular Google, have far more influence on politics and elections than most people realize. From Robert Epstein at gatestoneinstitute.org:

“They leave no paper trail for authorities to trace. They are the perfect weapon for changing… the outcome of elections”

  • Ephemeral experiences”: You might never have heard this phrase, but it’s a very important concept. These are brief experiences you have online in which content appears briefly and then disappears, leaving no trace. Those are the kinds of experiences we have been preserving in our election monitoring projects. You can’t see the search results that Google was showing you last month. They’re not stored anywhere, so they leave no paper trail for authorities to trace. Ephemeral experiences are, it turns out, quite a powerful tool of manipulation.
  • Are people at companies like Google aware of the power they have? Absolutely…
  • In a national study we conducted in 2013, in one demographic group — moderate Republicans — we got a shift of 80% after just one search, so some people are especially trusting of search results, and Google knows this. The company can easily manipulate undecided voters using techniques like this….
  • We have shown in controlled experiments that biased search suggestions can turn a 50‑50 split among undecided voters into a 90‑10 split, with no one having the slightest idea they have been manipulated.
  • Unfortunately, people mistakenly believe that computer output must be impartial and objective. People especially trust Google to give them accurate results…. They have no idea that they may have been driven to that web page by highly biased search results that favor the candidate Google is supporting.

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