- 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)
Trump Signs Order Allowing Former Troops to Be Called Upon for Coronavirus Fight
- President Trump signed an executive order that allows for former troops to be brought back to active duty to help fight the coronavirus pandemic.
- This is not an immediate order to call former service members back, but it is typically used when the military is in need of specific skill sets, like persons with high demand medical capabilities.
- Officials are still reviewing who might be activated.
- The order comes just days after the Army called upon former service members to voluntarily rejoin and help in the military’s response efforts. Over 14,000 have expressed interest as of Friday.
Trump Signs Executive Order
President Donald Trump signed an executive order Friday that allows the Pentagon to bring former U.S. troops and members of the National Gaurd and reserve back to active duty to help those already battling the county’s coronavirus outbreaks.
During his press conference Friday night, Trump said the decision allows the federal government “to mobilize medical, disaster and emergency response personnel to help wage our battle against the virus by activating thousands of experienced service members including retirees.”
“We have a lot of people, retirees, great military people — they’re coming back in,” Trump added.
What This Means
The executive order released by the White House states that anyone recalled can remain on active duty for up to 24 months straight. It provides the Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security the authority to order as many as 1 million individuals at one time, however, it is not an order to do so.
According to Pentagon spokesperson Jonathan Hoffman, the order applies to units and individual members in the National Guard and Reserves and certain Individual Ready Reserve members who are normally in an inactive status.
Hoffman said that decisions about who may be activated are still being reviewed, but he added, “Generally, these members will be persons in Headquarters units and persons with high demand medical capabilities whose call-up would not adversely affect their civilian communities.”
As of now, the Individual Ready Reserve contains 224,841 members, according to the Department of Defense, and nearly 11,000 of those members “have medical capabilities.”
“This is a dynamic situation, we do not currently have a projected number of expected activations, but the Department is now fully authorized to make activations as needed,” Hoffman said.
He also stressed that the departments would consult with state officials before using any National Gaurd Reserve Component units under the executive order.
Earlier this week, the Army called upon former service members to voluntarily rejoin and help in the military’s pandemic response efforts. The Army said the initial response has been positive, with at least 14,6000 people expressing interest as of Friday.
See what others are saying: (Politico) (CNN) (Fox News)
FDA Authorizes Portable Test Kit That Can Detect COVID-19 in 5 Minutes
- The FDA has approved the use of a new coronavirus test kit that can give positive results in as little as 5 minutes and negative results in 13, leaps faster than the hours and sometimes days laboratory tests normally take.
- The tests are run on a lightweight and small portable device that can be used in emergency rooms, urgent care clinics, and even outside hospital walls.
- Abbott, the medical device company that makes the kits, plans to send out 50,000 tests a day starting next week.
New Test Approved
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration gave Emergency Use Authorization to the medical device company Abbott for a new coronavirus test kit that gives results within minutes.
Abbott announced the news in a Friday press release, saying it plans to start delivering 50,000 tests a day beginning next week. The tests run on the company’s ID NOW platform, a portable device about the size of a small toaster than weights only 6.6 pounds.
Its portability means it can be used directly in an emergency room or urgent care clinic and even, “outside the traditional four walls of a hospital in outbreak hotspots.”
The company called it “the fastest available molecular point-of-care test for the detection of novel coronavirus(COVID-19), delivering positive results in as little as five minutes and negative results in 13 minutes.”
Second Rapid Test to Be Approved by FDA
The approval from federal health officials means that regulators were satisfied with the test’s validation data and are confident that its benefits outweigh any risk, like false positives or negatives.
The FDA’s approval marks the seconds time it has green-lit a fast working test that could accelerate testing across the country. Last week, it approved a 45-minute rapid point of care test by the molecular diagnostics company Cepheid. However, that test is primarily intended for emergency rooms and hospitals, not doctors’ officers or urgent care clinics.
Still, those turnaround times are leaps faster than the hours to days it takes most laboratory tests to bring results.
Medical Shortages Still Cause Concern
The approval of the Abbott test comes as cities across the nation battle with numbers of potential patients that surpass available tests and resources. Even with insufficient testing, the United States became the country with the largest number of reported cases of coronavirus on Thursday, exceeding China and Italy. By Friday, the U.S. hit more than 100,000 cases.
Many fear that shortages of other critical medical equipment, like masks and swabs, could stifle the new rapid test’s impact. That’s because the kit requires a swab sample collected from patients, and many health care facilities are running desperately low on the tools needed to safely collect those samples.
The Center for Disease Control issued guidance Tuesday that allows some patients to collect their own nasal swabs in health care facilities, in an effort to reduce the amount of protective equipment needed for health care workers.
On the opposite end, however, others note that fast and efficient testing can help medical professionals determine how much protective equipment they actually need to wear when interacting with a patient, as well as what kind of care to provide. Since this test can be done in a doctor’s office, it could even potentially help diagnose patients with mild or asymptomatic cases of the virus and help stop them from unknowingly spreading it.
Experts also say drastically increasing testing capacity can help get the economy back on track sooner. With increased testing, measures like keeping everyone at home could be replaced with more targeted identification and isolation of those infected.
EPA Limits Environmental Regulations During Coronavirus Crisis
- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced Thursday that it is scaling back its enforcement of environmental rules during the coronavirus emergency as businesses face challenges like layoffs and accessibility issues.
- The temporary policy allows companies to monitor their own compliance with environmental laws, and the EPA said it will not issue penalties for violations of certain reporting requirements.
- Many critics slammed the move, arguing that it opens doors to excess pollution and does not prioritize the health and safety of people and wildlife.
- The EPA defended the policy, saying it has reserved its authorities for situations other than routine monitoring and reporting and will consider the pandemic’s impacts on a “case-to-case basis.”
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says it will limit the enforcement of certain regulations as the coronavirus pandemic continues, leaving companies in charge of monitoring their own compliance with environmental laws.
The agency unveiled the temporary policy on Thursday, arguing that businesses are running into obstacles like layoffs and accessibility issues as the virus alters normal life across the nation.
“EPA is committed to protecting human health and the environment, but recognizes challenges resulting from efforts to protect workers and the public from COVID-19 may directly impact the ability of regulated facilities to meet all federal regulatory requirements,” EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said in a statement.
Under normal circumstances, companies must report when their facilities release a certain amount of pollution into the air or water. Now, that requirement will be put on hold for the time being.
“In general, the EPA does not expect to seek penalties for violations of routine compliance monitoring, integrity testing, sampling, laboratory analysis, training, and reporting or certification obligations in situations where the EPA agrees that Covid-19 was the cause of the noncompliance and the entity provides supporting documentation to the EPA upon request,” the policy states.
The agency also said it would exercise “discretion” in enforcing other environmental rules. It noted that the policy does not apply to criminal violations or hundreds of the country’s most toxic waste sites that fall under the Superfund act. The EPA also said it expects public water systems to maintain high standards.
“Public water systems have a heightened responsibility to protect public health because unsafe drinking water can lead to serious illnesses and access to clean water for drinking and handwashing is critical during the COVID-19 pandemic,” the policy says.
The memo said that the changes will apply retroactively beginning on March 13, with no set end date indicated.
Criticism of New Policy
Some, including people in the oil industry, had been asking for these regulations to be loosened, but others slammed the EPA’s choice, claiming it is too broad and lax.
Gina McCarthy, who headed the EPA under the Obama administration and is now president of the Natural Resources Defense Council, called the policy an “open license to pollute.”
Some called the changes “outrageous” and “evil,” accusing the EPA of prioritizing businesses over the health of individuals and wildlife.
Prominent figures in the climate change fight slammed the move as well.
“The EPA uses this global pandemic to create loopholes for destroying the environment,” teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg tweeted. “This is a schoolbook example for what we need to start looking out for.”
Others pointed out the irony of suspending rules that preserve air quality while a respiratory disease makes its rounds across the country.
“What part of, ‘air pollution increases our vulnerability to respiratory diseases LIKE CORONAVIRUS,’ is not clear, EPA?” one Twitter user wrote.
Defense of Policy
The EPA stood behind their move and did not agree with its classification as a dismissal of regulations.
“It is not a nationwide waiver of environmental rules,” Andrea Woods, an E.P.A. spokeswoman, told The New York Times. “For situations outside of routine monitoring and reporting, the agency has reserved its authorities and will take the pandemic into account on a case-by-case basis.”
Susan Parker Bodine, the EPA official who issued the policy, said that it does not excuse organizations from consequences if they do committ environmental violations.
“If you do have violations of your permit, you’re still obligated to meet your permit limits, you’re supposed to do everything possible,” Bodine told ABC. “And after the fact the agency will take that all into consideration but there isn’t a promise of no penalties in those kinds of situations.”
“If you have an acute risk, if you have an imminent threat … the facility has to come in and talk to their regulator, their authorized state or come into the agency,” she added. “And the reason for that is that we want to, we want to put all of our resources into keeping these facilities safe keeping communities safe.”