Google VP Karan Bhatia: Google isn't politically biased and doesn't censor conservative speech

From the very beginning, Google has always been about one thing above all else: knowledge. Even as the company has grown and evolved, our mission has remained the same: to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.

A core part of our mission is our work to provide access to high-quality information for everyone.

Over the last few years, though, there have been accusations that tech companies like Google are censoring conservative speech by injecting political bias into our products. As the head of Google’s government affairs team, I’ll be testifying on this topic before a Senate subcommittee Tuesday afternoon where I’ll be clear: Google’s products are not politically biased.

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Indeed, we go to extraordinary lengths to build our products and enforce our policies in such a way that political leanings are not taken into account.

At Google, we aim to serve users everywhere. We want all people – regardless of race, nationality, gender, religion, or political leanings – to find our products useful. That requires, above all, that we earn and maintain their trust.

Our users overwhelmingly trust us to deliver the most helpful and reliable information out there. Distorting results for political purposes would be antithetical to our mission and contrary to our business interests.

In Google Search, our focus is to make the extensive and diverse range of information on the web accessible to people around the world.

Every day, our search engine handles billions of searches of hundreds of billions of webpages. To manage this volume, we rely on an algorithmic approach and implement rigorous user testing and evaluation before we make any changes to our algorithms.

These algorithms don’t detect political perspectives, much less use them in any way to determine how webpages are ranked. Objective third-party studies – including, most recently, a comprehensive year-long assessment of Google News results by The Economist – have found no evidence of ideological bias in either direction.

We go to extraordinary lengths to build our products and enforce our policies in such a way that political leanings are not taken into account.

While Google Search aims to index the web, our YouTube platform hosts content and strives to be a community where people can listen, share, connect and be successful. Here too we employ algorithms to help sort and recommend the millions of hours of video that users upload each day – again, political orientation does not factor into our ranking or recommendations.

We do have a responsibility to keep information that is detrimental to our users’ experience or to society off our platform. We post clear Community Guidelines that users must adhere to when posting content to YouTube, and we prohibit certain content from the platform, such as videos that incite violence on the basis of race or religion.

Such content, in my mind, is not conservative or liberal; it is not political speech; it is content that is dangerous to society and to our community of users. We see it as our right and our responsibility to remove it.

Operating at the scale we do, we’re bound to get criticism from both sides. And we do.

From time to time, for example, political advertising may violate our advertising guidelines – we’ve disallowed ads from both Democrats and Republicans.

From time to time, our Knowledge Panels in Search – which help you find quick facts when you search for information about topics like “Hillary Clinton” or “California Republican Party” – may reflect erroneous information from the web and need to be corrected.

We work hard to learn from our mistakes and constantly improve our products – but importantly, these mistakes have affected both parties and are not the product of bias.

We’re a company of more than 100,000 people increasingly stretched across 24 states in the U.S. and around the world, whose experiences reflect a broad range of backgrounds, religions and political affiliations.

Our employees’ diverse viewpoints are as broad as the 60 countries in which we operate, and we remain dedicated to creating the world’s best technology products that work equally well for everyone.

Ultimately, the growth of the Internet has fostered an unprecedented era of speech and the free flow of ideas.

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I’m old enough to remember a time before the web, when our access to news was limited to a few TV channels and newspapers. Today, we have access to an astounding number of ideas, viewpoints and information.

I believe that the Internet and products like Search and YouTube have created opportunities for the expression of diverse political views and a more dynamic political discourse in America – for the benefit of everyone.