Google CEO explains why searching for ‘idiot’ results in images of Trump

Pauline Obrien
December 13, 2018

Google CEO Sundar Pichai was forced to explain to US congress on Tuesday why images of Donald Trump crop up when you tap the word "idiot" - a word that's also now become the most searched term on Google in light of the revelation. "I just did that", the California Democrat told Pichai during a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Tuesday here. Pichai claimed Google has looked into several allegations, but has not specifically launched an investigation into employee bias because the company's processes are layered with enough redundancies and review to catch potential harm before it takes effect. Looming over the tech industry is the possibility of government regulation meant to protect people's data and a deeper look into whether very big companies like Google, Amazon and Facebook need to be broken up. Lofgren asked - we're presuming with a slight hint of sarcasm.

Google angered lawmakers earlier this year by refusing to send a top executive to a similar hearing with Facebook and Twitter.

Lawmakers from both parties seem determined to re-examine whether Google rigs its search results to promote its own services and its own political agenda, too.

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Pichai also inadvertently undermined one of tech giants' main justifications for the content management changes made since 2016, the Daily Caller reports.

PICHAI: That's right, which was, you know - no amount is OK here, but we found limited activity, improper activity. The company has denied any such bias, and while the question has dogged tech companies for years, there's no evidence of an anti-conservative or any other political tilt. The New York Democrat said Tuesday's hearing was the committee's fourth to address the topic - and he suggested he'd move on to other topics as Democrats take control.

Pichai said the data collected would depend on the applications installed and privacy options chosen.

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Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas, tried to pin down Pichai concretely on privacy. "I've got an iPhone", Mr. Poe said, waving his device. If he moved to the left toward his Democratic colleagues on the panel, would Google know? Pichai refused to give a clear answer. Poe demanded a yes or no answer, but Pichai indicated it was complicated. What is important here is we use the robust methodology to reflect what is being said about any given topic at any particular time.

Governments around the world are becoming increasingly unnerved by the power being amassed by major technology companies with the dominance of Facebook in social networking, Google in search and Amazon in e-commerce raising the most concerns.

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