- Project Veritas released a report with documents from an anonymous source within Google and secretly recorded footage of a Google employee, Jen Gennai, speaking about the company’s policies.
- Both Project Veritas and the source claim that Google has a liberal bias, is silencing conservative voices, and trying to prevent leaders like Donald Trump from gaining power.
- Gennai wrote that her words were taken out of context and edited to make her sound like she was working to get Trump out of office.
- A Google executive also spoke in a Senate hearing where she was asked about the report, and she said the company builds for everyone, regardless of political ideology.
Project Veritas Video Shows Google Employee
Project Veritas uploaded a video Monday with footage they shot “undercover” of Jen Gennai, who they identify as the Head of Responsible Innovation at Google. In the video, she can be seen speaking about a number of things, ranging from politics to Google’s policy. They claim her words convey that the company has an anti-Trump attitude.
“We all got screwed over in 2016, again it wasn’t just us,” she says in one clip. “It was, the people got screwed over, the news media got screwed over, like, everybody got screwed over so we’re rapidly been like, what happened there and how do we prevent it from happening again.”
“2020, certainly on top of my old organization, Trust and Safety, top of mind, they’ve been working on it since 2016, to make sure we’re ready for 2020,” she later says. “We’re also training our algorithms, like, if 2016 happened again, would we have, would the outcome be different?”
Gennai also speaks about politicians’ desires to intervene with Google. She said that Google has ignored requests to speak with Congress because they don’t intend on changing their practices.
“Elizabeth Warren is saying we should break up Google,” Gennai says in a clip. “And like, I love her but she’s very misguided, like that will not make it better it will make it worse, because all these smaller companies who don’t have the same resources that we do will be charged with preventing the next Trump situation, it’s like a small company cannot do that.”
She can also be heard speaking about political bias when it comes to what Google considers to be a credible news source.
“We have gotten accusations of…around fairness is that we’re unfair to conservatives because we’re choosing what we find as credible news sources and those sources don’t necessarily overlap with conservative sources,” said Gennai.
The video has been removed from YouTube. YouTube told Rogue Rocket that it violated their privacy guidelines by depicting someone’s face and likeness who was being filmed without their consent. Had Gennai’s face been blurred and name been removed, it would not have violated this policy.
Anonymous Source Leaks Documents
In addition to this footage, an anonymous source sat down with Project Veritas. The source said that Google was highly biased and wanted to prevent Trump from being re-elected in 2020.
They also brought forward documents about Google’s practices. One of those documents was internal information on Google’s position when it comes to news. It states that their goal is to “Establish a ‘single point of truth’ for definition of ‘news’ across Google products.”
Other documents explain a concept that they call Algorithmic Unfairness and explains how they are trying to address this. According to the documents that the source brought forward, Algorithmic Unfairness means “unjust or prejudicial treatment of people that is related to sensitive characteristics such as race, income, sexual orientation, or gender, through algorithmic systems or algorithmically aided decision making.”
One example the document provides states that if you search CEOs into Google Images you will see mainly men. Even though this would be factually accurate, it would be algorithmic unfairness because it reinforces stereotypes about men and women’s roles in the workplace.
However, it also says that in some cases, it may be “appropriate to take no action if the system accurately affects current reality.”
While in other cases, they could consider how to “help society reach a more fair and equitable state, via either product intervention or broader corporate social responsibility efforts.”
To see what happens when this example is put into practice, Rogue Rocket, typed CEOs into Google Images. The photos were mainly of men, though “woman” is a suggestion up top.
The source also says that Google is furthering an agenda in its search suggestions.
In the video, they show that when you type “women can” into the engine, you get things like “women can vote,” “women can do anything,” and “women can fly.” When typing “men can” you get things like “men can have babies,” “men can cook,” and “men can get pregnant.” The source says this pushes a progressive agenda.
Rogue Rocket typed those phrases into Google to see if the suggestions are universal and got overlapping results, with varying differences.
Another search example Project Veritas shows was typing “Hillary Clinton’s e-mails are” versus “Donald Trump’s e-mails” into the Google search engine. The engine gives no suggestions for Clinton but does for Trump. The source claims that this is intentional.
“Well, according to them, Hillary Clinton’s emails are a conspiracy theory and its unfair to return results based on her emails,” the source said.
The source goes on to say that they are training AI to turn up results like this. Rogue Rocket typed the phrases in as well and found that no suggestions came up for Clinton, but did for Trump. However, once the search on Clinton’s e-mails is entered, there are results including archives from WikiLeaks, Politico, and NPR, as well as pages from Wikipedia and Fox News.
Project Veritas’ report also brings up Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which allows companies like Google to not be held accountable for the content they provide. This is because they are a platform, not a publisher. However, the source says they believe Google should be considered a publisher and should be held accountable.
The source also goes on to talk about YouTube, a Google-owned company. They say that YouTube is demonetizing conservative voices and using AI to suppress their videos. The source claims that because of this, since a conference in May, many have seen their view counts go down.
Later on Monday, Gennai responded to the video, saying she had been receiving threats since it was uploaded. She wrote a Medium post about what happened and claimed her words were taken out of context.
“In late May, I accepted an invitation to meet with a few people who claimed to be from ‘2 Step Tech Solutions’. They said they wanted to chat to me about a mentoring program for young women of color in tech, an area I’ve long been passionate about,” Gennai wrote.
“Unfortunately, I now know that these people lied about their true identities, filmed me without my consent, selectively edited and spliced the video to distort my words and the actions of my employer, and published it widely online,” she added.
Gennai specifically explained that in terms of talking about the election, her words had been misconstrued.
“I was explaining how Google’s Trust and Safety team (a team I used to work on) is working to help prevent the types of online foreign interference that happened in 2016. Google has been very public about the work that our teams have done since 2016 on this, so it’s hardly a revelation,” Gennai said.
Gennai also said that the video brought up debunked conspiracy theories and that Google has no “notion of political ideology.”
Second Project Veritas Report
On Tuesday Project Veritas released another report with what they say are emails from a Google employee. In those emails, someone refers to PragerU, Jordan Peterson, Ben Shapiro as Nazis.
“I don’t think correctly identifying far-right content is beyond our capabilities. But if it is, why not go with Meredith’s suggestion of disabling the suggestion feature?” the e-mail continues.
According to their report, they say this implies that they should be removed from suggested content.
PragerU then launched a petition to stop big tech bias, saying that conservative ideas are under attack.
Shapiro also tweeted at YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki about the matter.
Peterson also called Google out.
Regarding these reports, YouTube Insider tweeted that the site has no political bias.
A YouTube representative also told Rogue Rocket that Google has an open culture and several large e-mail groups about a number of topics from things like pets to politics. This allows employees to voice their opinions with one another.
YouTube added that the leaked e-mails did not come from a YouTube employee, and that this person does not speak on behalf of the company, and that this is not an official company position.
On Tuesday, U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation had a hearing. During the hearing, Maggie Stanphill, the Director of User Experiences at Google spoke as a witness.
Senator Ted Cruz brought up the Project Veritas report and the claim it makes about the company being anti-Trump.
“Do you think its Google’s job to make sure somebody like Donald Trump never comes into power again?” Cruz asked Stanphill.
“No sir, I don’t think, I don’t think that is Google’s job,” Stanphill responded. “And we build for everyone, including every single religious belief, every single demographic every single region, and certainly every political affiliation.”
President Donald Trump spoke about Google on Wednesday in a phone interview with Fox Business.
“Look, we should be suing Google and Facebook and all that, which perhaps we will, okay,” Trump said.
He did not say why the companies should be sued, but he did say Google was trying to rig the 2020 election.
The Washington Post ran a statement from a Google spokesperson in response. That statement claims that the company seeks “to be a trustworthy source of information for everyone, without any regard for political viewpoint.”
See what others are saying: (The Hill) (Fox News) (Washington Post)
After Uvalde, Politicians, Public Figures, Gun Violence Survivors, and More Call For Change
“When are we going to do something?” Golden State Warriors Coach Steve Kerr asked during an emotional plea at a press conference.
Uvalde Shooting Kills 21 People
Democratic politicians, activists, and many others are calling for gun reform in the United States after 19 children and two teachers were killed in a Tuesday shooting at Robb Hill Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.
The 18-year-old suspected gunman was reportedly killed by officers. The massacre marks the 27th school shooting of 2022, according to Education Week.
It also comes just a week and a half after 10 people were killed in a shooting in Buffalo, New York, and another shooting in a Southern California church left one person dead and several others injured.
Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Ct.) spoke fervently on the Senate floor Tuesday, slamming his colleagues for refusing to pass gun control legislation that could prevent future shootings.
“What are we doing?” he asked of his fellow lawmakers. “Why do you spend all this time running for the United States Senate? Why do you through all the hassle of getting this job, of putting yourself in a position of authority, if your answer is, as the slaughter increases, as kids run for their lives, we do nothing? What are we doing?
“Why are you here if not to solve a problem as existential as this?” he continued. “This isn’t inevitable. These kids weren’t unlucky. This only happens in this country.”
“And it is a choice. It is our choice.”
President Joe Biden likewise urged action by supporting the now-expired assault weapons ban.
“We can do more. We must do more,” he added.
Public Figures And Shooting Survivors Speak Out
The demands for change spread far past political figures. Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr took time out of a pre-game press conference to passionately plead for common-sense gun control. He specifically called on Senators to vote on H.R. 8, a background check bill previously passed in the House.
“When are we going to do something?” Kerr asked while slamming his hands on the table.
“I ask you, Mitch McConnell, I ask all of you senators who refuse to do anything about the violence and school shootings and supermarket shootings. I ask you: Are you going to put your own desire for power ahead of the lives of our children and our elderly and our churchgoers?” Kerr continued. “Because that’s what it looks like.”
He went on to say that Americans, who largely support background checks, are “being held hostage by 50 Senators who refuse to even put it to a vote.”
Grammy Award-winning musician Taylor Swift shared his message, adding that she is filled with “rage and grief” not just from the shootings, but by “the ways in which we, as a nation, have become conditioned to unfathomable and unbearable heartbreak.”
“It doesn’t have to be this way,” tweeted David Hogg, an activist and survivor of the 2018 school shooting in Parkland, Florida. “The way we will make this time different is by Americans on both sides of the aisle collaborating on what we can agree on to get something done even if small. Kids are dying we have to do something.”
Manuel Oliver, the father of one of the children lost in the Parkland shooting, slammed the inaction of politicians in an interview on CBS News.
“The families don’t need your freaking hearts,” Oliver said. “They need their kids, and the kids are not there anymore. So I feel very angry and offended and I just don’t understand how come a whole society doesn’t wake up.”
People impacted by the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting also spoke out, including Mary Ann Jacob, who worked as a librarian at the school during the shooting.
“I’m so sorry those deaths did not change our world,” Jacob wrote.
Texas-based figures felt especially compelled to stand up as the tragedy hit so close to home. Academy Award-winning actor Matthew McConaughey, whose hometown is Uvalde, wrote a message on social media asking Americans to “take a longer and deeper look in the mirror and ask ourselves, ‘What is it that we truly value?’”
“We have tragically proven that we are failing to be responsible for the rights our freedoms grant us,” McConaughey wrote.
“Action must be taken so that no parent has to experience what the parents in Uvalde and the others before them have endured.”
Fellow Texas native Selena Gomez also took to social media to argue for action.
“If children aren’t safe at school where are they safe? It’s so frustrating and I’m not sure what to say anymore,” the “Only Murders in the Building” star wrote on her Instagram story. “Those in power need to stop giving lip service and actually change the laws to prevent these shootings in the future.”
We make it a point to not include the names and pictures of those who may have been seeking attention or infamy and will not link out to websites that might contain such information.
Lawmakers Call For Action as Oil Companies Post Record Profits Amid Rising Gas Prices
A recent analysis from the Center for American Progress found that the top five oil companies earned over 300% more in profits during the first quarter of 2022 than the same period last year.
As Consumer Prices Climb, Big Oil Profits
American oil companies are facing increased scrutiny over profiteering practices as gas prices continue to surpass record highs driven by Russia’s ongoing war in Ukraine.
Last week, costs surged to above $4 per gallon in all 50 states for the first time ever, according to the auto club AAA. Prices are currently averaging over $4.59 per gallon nationwide, which is 50% higher than they were this time last year.
In addition to consumers hurting at the pump, there are also rising concerns for industries that rely on fuel and oil like trucking, freight, airlines, and plastic manufacturers.
To account for high prices, some in sectors have responded by ramping up prices further down the supply chain to account for costs, putting even more of a burden on consumers to pay for everyday items.
But as Americans struggle with sky-high gas prices at a time of record inflation, recently released earnings reports show that many of the world’s largest oil companies thrived in the first quarter of 2022.
ExxonMobil more than doubled its earnings from the same period last year, reporting a net profit of $5.5 billion. Meanwhile, Chevron logged its best quarterly earnings in almost a decade, and Shell had its highest earnings ever.
According to a new analysis conducted by the Center for American Progress, the top five oil companies — including the three mentioned above — earned over 300% more in profits this quarter than during the same time last year.
“In fact, these five companies’ first-quarter profits alone are equivalent to almost 28 percent of what Americans spent to fill up their gas tanks in the same time period,” the report noted.
Per Insider, for at least four of those companies, that growth marks a tremendous increase in profits from even before the pandemic.
Lawmakers Ramp-Up Efforts to Reduce Prices
To address these startling disparities, federal lawmakers have moved in recent weeks to increase pressure on oil companies and take steps to lower prices.
On Thursday, the House of Representatives passed a bill proposed by Rep. Katie Porter (D-Ca.) that aims to reduce gas prices. The legislation, called The Consumer Fuel Price Gouging Prevention Act, would give the president the authority to issue an Energy Emergency Declaration that would be effective for up to 30 days with the possibility of being renewed.
In that emergency period, it would be illegal for anyone to increase gas or home energy fuel prices to a level that is exploitative or “unconscionably excessive.”
The proposal would also give the Federal Trade Commission the power to investigate and manage instances of price gouging from larger companies and give state authorities the ability to enforce price-gouging violations in civil courts.
The bill, which has already seen widespread opposition from Republicans and extensive lobbying from pro-oil interest groups, faces an uphill battle in the 50-50 split Senate.
During debate on the act Thursday, Rep. Porter delivered an impassioned speech accusing oil companies of driving their record profits by using their market power to unfairly increase prices.
“The oil and gas industry currently has more than 9,000 permits to drill for oil on federal land, but they are deliberately keeping production low to please their investors and increase their short-term profits,” she said. “Even when the price of crude oil falls, oil and gas companies have refused to pass those savings on to consumers.”
“Let me be clear: price gouging is anti-capitalist,” Porter continued. “It exploits a lack of competition, which is a hallmark of capitalism. It is an effort to juice corporate profits at the expense of customers. Energy markets are reeling because of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Big oil companies, however, are using this temporary chaos to cover up their abuse.”
See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (Vox) (NPR)
Lincoln College to Close for Good After COVID and Ransomware Attack Ruin Finances
Last year, 1,043 schools in the U.S. were the victim of ransomware attacks, including 26 colleges or universities, according to an analysis by Emsisoft.
One of the Only Historically Black Colleges in the Midwest Goes Down
After 157 years of educating mostly Black students in Illinois, Lincoln College will close its doors for good on Friday.
The college made the announcement last month, citing financial troubles caused by the coronavirus pandemic and a ransomware attack in December.
Enrollment dropped during the pandemic and the administration had to make costly investments in technology and campus safety measures, according to a statement from the school.
A shrinking endowment put additional pressure on the college’s budget.
The ransomware attack, which the college has said originated from Iran, thwarted admissions activities and hindered access to all institutional data. Systems for recruitment, retention, and fundraising were completely inoperable at a time when the administration needed them most.
In March, the college paid the ransom, which it has said amounted to less than $100,000. But according to Lincoln’s statement, subsequent projections showed enrollment shortfalls so significant the college would need a transformational donation or partnership to make it beyond the present semester.
The college put out a request for $50 million in a last-ditch effort to save itself, but no one came forward to provide it.
A GoFundMe aiming to raise $20 million for the college only collected $2,452 as of Tuesday.
Students and Employees Give a Bittersweet Goodbye
“The loss of history, careers, and a community of students and alumni is immense,” David Gerlach, the college’s president, said in a statement.
Lincoln counts nearly 1,000 enrolled students, and those who did not graduate this spring will leave the institution without degrees.
Gerlach has said that 22 colleges have worked with Lincoln to accept the remaining students, including their credits, tuition prices, and residency requirements.
“I was shocked and saddened by that news because of me being a freshman, so now I have to find someplace for me to go,” one student told WMBD News after the closure was announced.
When a group of students confronted Gerlach at his office about the closure, he responded with an emotional speech.
“I have been fighting hard to save this place,” he said. “But resources are resources. We’ve done everything we possibly could.”
On April 30, alumni were invited back to the campus to revisit the highlights of their college years before the institution closed.
On Saturday, the college held its final graduation ceremony, where over 200 students accepted their diplomas and Quentin Brackenridge performed the Lincoln Alma Mater.
Last year, 1,043 schools in the U.S. were the victim of ransomware attacks, including 26 colleges or universities, according to an analysis by Emsisoft.