Recently Google CEO Sundar Pichai appeared in front of US lawmakers to answer some “tough” questions on the company’s handling of user data and expansion plans in China. Republicans on the committee allege that Google’s search results are biased and the company chooses liberal websites over conservative views for prime placement on Google services like search.
Pichai tried explaining how Google search results aren’t biased. But there was one question that got the eyes and ears of everyone: “Manipulation of search results, I think it’s important to talk about how search works,” Lofgren said. “Right now, if you Google the word ‘idiot,’ under images, a picture of Donald Trump comes up. I just did that.”
This made Pichai give a technical explanation of how Google search indexes web pages, including pictures, and ranks them against popular keywords based on algorithms, with absolutely no human intervention.
Sundar’s full response:
“We provide search today for any time you type in a keyword, we as Google, we have crawled and stored copies of billions of web pages in our index. We take the keyword and match it against web pages and rank them based on over 200 signals. Things like relevance, freshness, popularity, how other people are using it, and based on that, at any given time we try to rank and find the best results for that query. Then we evaluate them with external raters, to make sure, and they evaluate it to objective guidelines, and how that’s how we make sure the process is working.”
Unconvinced by this explanation, Lofgren asked, “So it’s not some little man sitting behind the curtain figuring out what we’re going to show the users?”
Pichai smiled a bit and others around him had to do the same before he responded to this. Little men sitting behind curtains manipulating Google search results isn’t how Google functions, Pichai explained.
Hilarious!! isn’t it?