A psychologist is accusing Google of manipulating American citizens to influence the outcome of the November midterm elections.
Robert Epstein and his research team from the American Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology have been monitoring online political content being sent to voters in swing states. As part of the research, the team is looking into search engine results on Google and Bing, messages displayed on Google’s homepage, tweets sent by Twitter, email suppression on Gmail, auto-play videos suggested on Google-owned YouTube, and so on.
The study found over 1.9 million “ephemeral experiences” that Google and other firms were using to “shift opinions and voting preferences,” Epstein wrote in a Nov. 6 article for the Daily Caller. “Ephemeral experiences” are short-lived content that immediately disappears without leaving a trace after user consumption.
The team expects such “ephemeral experiences” to number over 2.5 million by Election Day. Epstein has identified roughly a dozen new forms of online manipulation using ephemeral experiences which are almost exclusively controlled by Google and a few other tech firms.
The impact created by the experiences is “stunning,” Epstein says.
Search engine results that favor one political candidate were found to influence undecided voters so much that up to 80 percent of such people in some demographic groups shifted their voting preferences after only a single search.