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Googling ‘idiot’ Bringing up Donald Trump Pictures Drags Google in Trouble

The House committee had also questioned YouTube, Twitter and Facebook executives at separate hearings on bias in big tech

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Sundar Pichai, social media
. VOA

US Democratic Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren, in an effort to understand how Google search algorithms work, asked its CEO Sundar Pichai why so many pictures of President Donald Trump appear when she does a Google search for “idiot”.

“Right now, if you Google the word ‘idiot’ under images, a picture of Donald Trump comes up. I just did that,” the California Democrat told Pichai during a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Tuesday here.

“How would that happen? How does search work so that would occur?” Lofgren asked Pichai, according to the Washington Post.

The Google CEO — who was at the hearing to address allegations of political bias in his company’s widely used search engine — said the results were based on billions of keywords ranked according to over 200 factors such as relevance, popularity, how others were using the search term, to determine how to best match a query with results.

“So it’s not some little man sitting behind the curtain figuring out what we’re going to show the user?” Lofgren asked. “It’s basically a compilation of what users are generating.”

Republicans have long accused Google of political bias, which the company has strongly denied.

Climate Change, Trump, disasters
Why googling ‘idiot’ brings up Trump photos, Congresswoman asks Pichai. VOA

In August, Trump said in a tweet that a Google search for “Trump News” showed only reports from “Fake News Media.” He concluded it was “rigged” against him so “almost all stories and news was bad.”

House Republicans said they wanted to hold the hearing — entitled “Transparency & Accountability: Examining Google and its Data Collection, Use and Filtering Practices” — to make sure the search giant was being impartial.

“Americans put their trust in big tech companies to honour freedom of speech and champion open dialogue,” Republican House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte of Virginia said in a statement before the hearing.

The House committee had also questioned YouTube, Twitter and Facebook executives at separate hearings on bias in big tech.

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In response to Republicans who complained about Google searches, Democratic Representative Ted Lieu said: “If you want positive search results, do positive things. If you don’t want negative search results, don’t do negative things.”

“And to some of my colleagues across the aisle, if you’re getting bad press articles and bad search results, don’t blame Google or Facebook or Twitter, consider blaming yourself.” (IANS)

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Google Announces a New Initiative Called ‘Privacy Sandbox’ to Protect Users’ Privacy on Web

Recent studies have shown that when advertising is made less relevant by removing cookies, funding for publishers falls by 52 per cent on average

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google, online tracking
A man walks past a Google sign outside with a span of the Bay Bridge at rear in San Francisco, May 1, 2019. VOA

In a bid to protect users’ privacy as they open ads on the web, Google has announced a new initiative called “Privacy Sandbox” to develop a set of open standards to fundamentally enhance privacy on Internet.

Google said it will work with the web community to develop new standards that advance privacy, while continuing to support free access to content.

“Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve started sharing our preliminary ideas for a ‘Privacy Sandbox’ — a secure environment for personalization that also protects user privacy,” Justin Schuh, Director, Chrome Engineering, said in a blog post on Thursday.

The company also aims to ensure that ads continue to be relevant for users, but their personal data shared with websites and advertisers would be minimized by anonymously aggregating user information, and keeping much more user information on-device only.

According to the company, large scale blocking of cookies undermine people’s privacy by encouraging opaque techniques such as “fingerprinting”.

privacy, google
FILE -Google CEO Sundar Pichai speaks during the keynote address of the Google I/O conference in Mountain View, Calif., May 7, 2019. VOA

With “fingerprinting”, developers have found ways to use information that vary between users — such as what device they have or what fonts they have installed to generate a unique identifier which can then be used to match a user across websites.

“Unlike cookies, users cannot clear their fingerprint, and therefore cannot control how their information is collected. We think this subverts user choice and is wrong,” said Google.

However, blocking cookies without another way to deliver relevant ads significantly reduces publishers’ primary means of funding, which jeopardizes the future of the vibrant web.

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Recent studies have shown that when advertising is made less relevant by removing cookies, funding for publishers falls by 52 per cent on average.

“So we are doing something different. We want to find a solution that both really protects user privacy and also helps content remain freely accessible on the web,” said Google, asking for feedback on this approach from the web platform community, including other browsers, publishers and their advertising partners. (IANS)