On July 16, Dr. Robert Epstein, senior research psychologist at the American Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology, testified in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee regarding Silicon Valley’s role in influencing elections.
Epstein made the accusation that Google is manipulating voters on a massive scale. He claimed that Google’s actions gave Hillary Clinton at least 2.6 million additional votes during the last presidential election, due to selective voter targeting, and the company is capable of manipulating up to 15 million votes in 2020.
In a related move, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) filed a lawsuit with Google on July 25 for suspending her ad account, which harmed her chances to reach potential voters as a presidential candidate.
It comes in the wake of a revealing video released by Project Veritas demonstrating political bias among employees at Google, as well as suspected attempts from employees of the company to undermine another Trump victory in 2020.
Christian Hartsock, the lead investigative reporter with Project Veritas, spoke exclusively with The Epoch Times about his undercover story exposing Google. Hartsock’s video of his undercover interview with Jen Gennai, the head of Machine Learning experiments at Google, was deleted by YouTube in June.
“What Jen Gennai told me was that 2020 was at the top of everyone’s mind,” he said. “In my interpretation, a lot of these people [at Google] have a sense of manifest destiny. She even said it herself in some very candid moments where she was saying, ‘Well, we’re a big company,’ ‘We will decide,’ and ‘We will draw the line in the sand.’ She said that they’re working to make sure there isn’t a repeat of 2016. She also spoke to doing what they can to prevent ‘another Trump situation.’”
Gennai later wrote a Medium post defending her conduct in the undercover interview, saying that she was referring to Russian hacking in the 2016 election when she said Google was working to “make sure there isn’t another 2016.”
Hartsock countered her defense.
“According to retrospective studies, there was no quantifiable impact on voter turnout for Trump because of Russian election meddling. So, she is speaking about preventing another Trump situation,” he said.
Hartsock further warned about the dangerous ideological bubble that many Silicon Valley companies operate under and which affects their methods, as well as global trends.
“In my opinion, they are the curators of information. This is an information war. There is information that certain people don’t want the public to have,” he said.
When asked if the company culture at Google could be pressuring employees to adapt a certain way of thinking, Hartsock explained what he found in his investigation.
“It seems to me there is a certain way they want society to look and they are wanting to re-create society in their own image,” he said.
Hartsock explained his belief that leftist political trends are a major factor in the development of Google’s ideological trajectory.
“When you have pop culture projecting a certain ideology and shaming [those] that are outside the mainstream, you have a conscious effect on the consumer,” he said. “Google understands their influence way more than we do, and I think in their minds, [they’re] doing the right thing.”
Hartsock also described Google’s auto-complete function and its importance on search results. By giving suggestions to users, Google attempts to lead them to think a certain way with a dropdown list of options.
“Google is purporting to mirror the curiosity of the public. [With auto-complete], that shows me an intent to stifle curiosity that they find inappropriate or problematic. They’re wanting to [move] the public curiosity in the direction that they wanted toward the answers that they want to get.”
The Epoch Times also spoke with Trump’s 2016 campaign Southern California field director Brian Harrington on the effect social media had on his work with the Trump campaign and with other candidates.
When asked about Silicon Valley’s attempts to influence elections, Harrington confirmed that these companies have the power to affect voters, but their exact methods are often a mystery.
“Does Google have the ability to affect search results? Yes. For me, that gives it a level of credibility. I have a friend at Google, I have a friend that works at Facebook. I try to [contact] them about things like this and they aren’t able to talk about it. I think that speaks to the credibility of [this issue], too,” he said.
Harrington was asked whether he saw any evidence that Epstein referred to in his testimony of Google or Facebook targeting liberal-leaning users, such as potentially showing “Go Vote” reminders to certain users.
“To my understanding, [when using] the Facebook ad profile as an outside consultant, we are not able to choose Republicans or Democrats based off their voter file at the county, but you are able to choose based off of pages they like. Does Google or Facebook have the ability to cross-reference those things on the back end? It seems possible,” he said.
Harrington said that in his capacity with the Trump Campaign, he operated as if Silicon Valley did in fact attempt to sway votes in favor of Clinton and the Democrats. However, he said that he didn’t believe it was due to malicious intent from the employees of these companies.
“In my head, it’s more likely than not that it’s been happening. I don’t think employees of these companies are evil. I don’t think the majority of them are hardcore political operatives. For whatever reason, humans fall into habits. If you end up working at one of these companies located on the coast, you go to the same bars and restaurants. Everyone is guilty in taking part in groupthink. It’s really hard to always be on the lookout for that and always be adjusting your narrative,” he said.
With social media playing a pivotal role in the 2020 elections, Silicon Valley has become a major point of focus by Washington leading up to next year. Facebook, Twitter, and Google have all testified in front of Congress on multiple occasions, with more coming.