Google does manipulate its search results manually, contrary to the company’s official denials, documents obtained exclusively by The Daily Caller indicate.
Two official policies dubbed the “misrepresentation policy” and the “good neighbor policy” inform the company’s “XPA news blacklist,” which is maintained by Google’s Trust & Safety team. “T&S will be in charge of updating the blacklist as when there is a demand,” reads one of the documents shared with The Daily Caller.
“The deceptive_news domain blacklist is going to be used by many search features to filter problematic sites that violate the good neighbor and misrepresentation policies,” the policy document says. (RELATED: Meet The Five Google Staffers Who Circulated The Petition To Drop Kay Coles James)
That document reads that it was, “approved by gomes@, nayak@, haahr@ as of 8/13/2018.” Ben Gomes is Google’s head of search, who reports directly to CEO Sundar Pichai. Pandu Nayak is a Google Fellow, and Paul Haahr is a software engineer, whose bio on Google’s internal network Moma indicates that he is also involved in, “fringe ranking: not showing fake news, hate speech, conspiracy theories, or science/medical/history denial unless we’re sure that’s what the user wants.”
“The purpose of the blacklist will be to bar the sites from surfacing in any Search feature or news product. It will not cause a demotion in the organic search results or de-index them altogether,” reads the policy document obtained by the Caller. What that means is that targeted sites will not be removed from the “ten blue links” portion of search results, but the blacklist applies to most of the other search features, like “top news,” “videos” or the various sidebars that are returned as search results.
In a section of the memo entitled “Eligibility for GNP [Good Neighbor Policy] enforcement,” the types of search results impacted by the policy are described:
“If your product shows any of the following, Misrep and GNP would apply to your PA.
- Shows content from users and news publishers (percieved 3P voice). Ex: UGC, News corpus, etc.
- Outputs single answers (perceived to come from the open web). Ex: Web answers, Video answers, etc.
- Shows content owned, licensed, or edited by Google (perceived to come directly from Google). Ex: Knowledge panels, News summaries, Oneboxes, Munin carousels, etc.”
The “ten blue links” may not be impacted by the blacklist, but virtually every other kind of Google search result is. While hard numbers are not available for how much traffic is directed through the 10 links versus the other search blocks, since the latter appear so high on the results page, the impact could be significant.