- 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)
2 Officers Shot, 127 Arrested in Louisville Following Breonna Taylor Decision
- Protests erupted across the country Wednesday night following the announcement that officers involved in the killing of Breonna Taylor would not face charges related to her death.
- One of the three officers was indicted on wanton endangerment because he blindly fired throughout her apartment, leading to some shots entering the neighbor’s apartment.
- Over 127 people were arrested in Louisville, and two police officers in the city were shot but are in stable condition. A suspect has been charged in the shooting.
- Across the country, many protests were peaceful, but others led to unrest, including some held in Denver and Buffalo where drivers rammed into protesters.
At least 127 people were arrested and two officers were shot Wednesday during protests in Louisville, Kentucky over the lack of charges filed against the officers involved in the killing of Breonna Taylor.
Protests began in the afternoon and carried on throughout the night after Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron announced a grand jury’s decision. Two of the involved officers will face no charges, and one, Brett Hankison, was indicted on wanton endangerment. That charge does not directly link to Taylor’s death but was instead brought on over the fact that he blindly fired throughout her apartment, leading to shots entering her neighbor’s apartment.
Many were outraged that none of the officers would face charges related to Taylor’s killing, prompting protests across the country. In Louisville, where the case took place, the Courier Journal reports that the majority of the 127 arrests were over curfew and unlawful assembly violations. Two of those arrested were reporters for the Daily Caller.
Two officers were also shot after they responded to reports of gunfire at a busy intersection. They are both in stable condition and sustained non-life-threatening injuries. A suspect is in custody and was charged with two counts of first-degree assault of a police officer and other counts of first-degree wanton endangerment. The FBI will be aiding in the investigation into what happened.
After this shooting, Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear addressed his state and the protesters in it.
“Sadly we have seen at least one individual turn non-violent ways of expressing ourselves into the shooting of at least two law enforcement officers,” he said. “We know that the answer to violence is never violence. And we are thinking about those two officers and their families tonight. So I’m asking everybody, please, go home.”
Other political leaders also responded to the shooting. President Donald Trump said he spoke to Beshear and said the federal government was ready to step in as protests escalated. Beshear had already approved the deployment of the National Guard earlier on Wednesday. A curfew was also implemented in Louisville.
Presidential candidate Joe Biden said he was praying for the officers who were shot.
“Even amidst the profound grief & anger today’s decision generated, violence is never & can never be the answer,” he wrote.
More protests were held at cities all across the country, including Los Angeles, New York and Chicago.
Many protests remained peaceful as demonstrators marched, calling for justice and changes to the criminal justice system. In some places, however, protests led to unrest.
At least 13 people were arrested in Seattle during protests. Local reports say fires were set, explosives were thrown, property in the area was damaged, and some officers got hurt. In one incident in the city, a viral video shows a police bike riding over someone’s head. Police are aware of the video and told the Washington Post they would be referring it to the city’s Office of Police Accountability for an investigation.
In Portland, authorities declared a demonstration a riot after rocks were thrown at a precinct’s window. A protester also threw a molotov cocktail, which hit an officer, though the flames were extinguished. Officers said that multiple arrests were made.
Video footage captured in Denver showed a driver ramming through protesters. No one at the scene sustained major injuries. Police have detained someone related to this incident.
In Buffalo, another video shows a the driver of a truck barreling into protestors. Local reports say a person riding their bike was hit and has broken bones but is in stable condition. The driver of the truck is in police custody.
Responses to Lack of Charges
Before protests began, many took to social media to express their dissatisfaction. Ben Crump, who represents Taylor’s family, said the decision was “offensive to her memory.”
“It’s yet another example of no accountability for the genocide of persons of color by white police officers,” he wrote in a statement. “With all we know about Breonna Taylor’s killing, how could a fair and just system result in today’s decision?”
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said it was time for a fundamental change in our criminal justice system.
“Everyone-and I do mean everyone-should be against officers being able to walk into your home and kill you with impunity,” activist Brittnay Packnett Cunningham wrote.
Celebrities also spoke out, including LeBron James, who said he was not surprised by the verdict but that his heart was still heavy.
Kerry Washington encouraged her followers to vote, and Daniel Levy told his to donate to the Louisville Community Bail Fund.
With all the ongoing public frustrations, Governor Beshear went on CNN and asked the state’s Attorney General to make information from the investigation public so that there can be transparency when it comes to how the decision was reached.
Taylor was killed in what has been described as a botched police raid in March. Three officers were sent to her apartment on a warrant because they believed her ex boyfriend had send drugs there. No drugs were found in the apartment.
While officers claim that they knocked and announced themselves, Taylor’s family, her boyfriend Kenneth Walker, who was there at the time, and her neighbors say they did not. When they entered the apartment, it was the middle of the night and Walker thought there was a break in, potentially by Taylor’s ex. He shot at the officers. The officers returned fire, killing Taylor.
The case has led to national outrage as Louisville officials have been slow to respond, investigate, and announce consequences.
See what others are saying: (Courier Journal) (Washington Post) (Associated Press)
4 UC Campuses Admitted Dozens of Wealthy and Well-Connected Students Despite Being Less Qualified, State Audit Finds
- University of California campuses admitted 64 less-qualified but well-connected students between 2013 and 2018, state auditor Elaine Howle said in a report published Tuesday.
- In the audit, Howle concluded that the UC system “has not treated applicants fairly or consistently.” In an interview with NBC News, she also said hundreds of more students could have been unfairly accepted into these four universities.
- In one example described in the audit, an applicant made the lowest possible scores on their application and was flagged as “do not recommend,” yet a donor relations admin passed on that application to a coach, noting that the applicant’s father had the capacity to donate major gifts to the school.
- Howle has now recommended that the UC Office of the President oversees admissions for at least three years and said campuses should be required to verify athletic recruits’ talents.
Audit of UC Campuses
The University of California admitted dozens of less-qualified, well-connected applicants over a six-year period, “[depriving] more qualified students of the opportunity for admission,” according to a state audit report published Tuesday.
The report details how four UC campuses — Berkeley, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, and San Diego — admitted 64 students (and possibly more) between the 2013-2014 and 2018-2019 academic years. According to state auditor Elaine Howle, the majority of those applicants were white, and at least half came from families with average yearly incomes over $150,000.
In one example outlined in the report, a child of a major donor applied to UC Berkeley but received the lowest possible score on their application, which was marked “Do Not Recommend.” Despite this, a donor relations administrator later passed that application along to an unnamed coach while noting that the family had a “huge capacity” to donate and was “already a big supporter of Cal.”
According to the audit, the coach then identified that applicant as a qualified student athlete, even though the applicant “had played only a single year of the sport in high school and at a low level of competition.”
After accepting a spot at Berkeley, the student’s family donated several thousand dollars to the team, but as the report notes, “The applicant never competed with the team, and the coaches removed the applicant from the team after the season ended.”
In a different example laid out in the audit, a UCLA coach admitted a student as an athlete as a favor to a donor, even though that student’s application had already been marked “Denied.”
In fact, 22 of the total 64 applicants were admitted with the endorsement of athletic departments, despite not meeting the athletic qualifications.
In another example, an applicant who babysat for the colleague of the former admissions director was accepted into one of the schools.
In a letter to Governor Gavin Newsom and the California state legislature prefacing the report, Howle concluded “that the university has allowed for improper influence in admissions decisions, and it has not treated applicants fairly or consistently.”
“By admitting 64 noncompetitive applicants, the university undermined the fairness and integrity of its admissions process and deprived more qualified students of the opportunity for admission,” she added.
As part of several recommendations, Howle said the UC Office of the President should oversee admissions for at least three years to “ensure that all admissions decisions are merit‑based and conform to the university’s policies on admissions.”
That recommedation will likely be especially stressed for UC Berkeley, which dominated the report with 42 of the total cases.
Still, in an interview with NBC News, Howle said she believes the UC system’s unfair admissions practice could run even deeper.
“There’s at least another 400 or so students… that were really questionable,” she told the outlet.
Because of all those factors combined, Howle has also recommended that beginning with the current admissions cycle, campuses should be required to verify athletic recruits’ talents and review donation records for possible impropriety.
In general, Howle noted that “applicants’ chances of admission were also unfairly affected by UC Berkeley’s, UCLA’s, and UC San Diego’s failures to properly train and monitor the staff who review and rate applications.”
According to Howle, at times, admissions staff were “overly strict or overly lenient in their review of applications,” which made “applicants’ chances of admission unduly dependent on the individual staff who rated them rather than on the students’ qualifications.”
UC President Responds
UC President Michael Drake said Howle’s audit follows two internal audits that identified many of the same issues, with Drake noting that Howle’s audit will be used to improve the admissions system.
“Individuals involved in improper activities will be disciplined appropriately,” he stressed.
A spokesperson for UCLA said its athletics-related incidents happened before the school adopted additional safeguards. Both UCLA and UC Berkeley noted that they have improved their admissions policies within recent years and that their review processes are fair.
UC Santa Barbara also said it has adopted recent safeguards, including having faculty committees review an athlete’s academic and athletic history.
Still, Howle’s audit uncovered many more cases of unfair admissions than an internal UC audit released in February, which found only two instances of possible impropriety. That audit was ordered by then-UC President Janet Napolitano following the national college admissions scandal that has led to convictions for actresses such as Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin.
See what others are saying: (The Wall Street Journal) (NBC News) (CNN)
Celebrities, Tech Companies, and Others Draw Attention to National Voter Registration Day
- Celebrities including Taylor Swift, Katy Perry, Ryan Reynolds, John Legend, and others took to social media to encourage their fans to register to vote in recognition of National Voter Registration Day.
- Social media companies themselves have also launched their own efforts to get Americans to register.
- Facebook said Monday it has already registered 2.5 million people, but many say Facebook’s efforts do not go far enough and that people should be suspicious of its motives.
National Voter Registration Day
Thousands of businesses, election officials, celebrities, and others joined together Tuesday for National Voter Registration Day, a non-partisan campaign to register Americans to vote.
“National Voter Registration Day seeks to create broad awareness of voter registration opportunities to reach tens of thousands of voters who may not register otherwise,” the official website for National Voter Registration Day states.“Every year millions of Americans find themselves unable to vote because they miss a registration deadline, don’t update their registration, or aren’t sure how to register.”
The annual campaign has been highly successful in the past. According to the website, since the event first started in 2012, “nearly 3 million voters across all 50 states have registered to vote on National Voter Registration Day, including 1.3 million in 2018-2019 alone.”
But there is still a lot of work to be done. Nearly one in every four eligible Americans are currently not registered to vote, and as the campaign pointed out in a statement, “this year, due to COVID-19, voter registration is more important than ever.”
“Because of the closure of DMVs and halting of voter registration field programs amid the pandemic, the number of new and updated voter registrations collected across the country has fallen dramatically since March,” the statement continued.
To combat that, partners and community groups are hosting “both digital voter registration drives and safe, in-person registration events,” in addition to “working to provide accurate information to voters on how to prepare to cast a ballot, either through mail-in voting, early in-person voting, or going to the polls on Election Day.”
Celebrities Promote Campaign
Many partner organizations took to social media to promote the event Tuesday, as well as celebrities like Ryan Reynolds, Katy Perry, Kesha, John Legend, and more.
“This National Voter Registration Day, research the voting rights in your state and make a plan to vote,” Legend wrote on Twitter. “By making your voice heard at the polls, you can determine the future of our country’s criminal justice system.”
Taylor Swift, who, accordiong to vote.org, inspired 65,000 people to register to vote in in 2018, also shared the campaign and emphasized its importance in an Instagram story.
“Hey guys, it’s National Voter Registration Day today. The election is November 3rd. It’s really coming up, and I’ve put together a swipe-up of resources,” the singer said. “You can register if you’re a first-time voter, you can check your registration, you can request an absentee ballot, you can figure out the process of voting early. We need everyone, and it is more important than I can even possibly say.”
Facebook’s Voter Registration Efforts
In addition to celebrities joining in on the campaign on social media, most of the major social media platforms themselves also took part.
Earlier this week, Twitter said it would roll out its biggest push yet to get people to register on Tuesday. Facebook, for its part, already begun its efforts even before National Voter Registration Day.
On Monday, the company said in a statement that estimated it has already helped 2.5 million people register to vote this year through Facebook, Instagram, and Messenger — already more than the 2 million it registered in 2016 and 2018. With just over a month until the election, the platform seems it is well on its way to completing its goal of registering 4 million people by the election.
As part of its efforts to meet that goal and others, Facebook has implemented a number of initiatives. In August, the company launched a “voting information center” with resources about voting on Facebook and Instagram.
Last weekend, it held a poll worker recruitment drive and announced it would be giving paid time off its U.S.-based employees who want to work at the polls. Just over this past weekend, Facebook also started providing users with information about how to register to vote at the top of Facebook, Instagram, and Messenger.
The platform has also done a number of things internally to prepare for the election. Earlier this month, it announced several changes it had made to fight against voting misinformation, most notably including not running new political ads the week before the election.
While some say these moves by Facebook are commendable, many have believe they fall short. Others have even said we should be suspect of Facebook’s motives.
“Corporations are political entities, and we should not assume that platform voter registration campaigns are being done with only public good in mind and aren’t also strategic,” Jennifer Grygiel, a communications professor at Syracuse University who studies social media, told USA Today.
“Social media companies have a lot at stake right now as they face increasing regulation. Their efforts to register voters could be serving corporate goals, and we need to make sure they are not strategically registering voters in a way that could skew the election.”
Facebook and the Election
Facebook’s recent voter registration efforts also come as the company is receiving significant public pressure to do more ahead of the election.
Last week, numerous celebrities including Kim Kardashian-West, Demi Lovato, Jennifer Lawrence, and others boycotted Instagram and Facebook for 24 hours to demand the company do more to address misinformation and hate speech as part of the Stop Hate for Profit Campaign.
That campaign also led major boycotts against Facebook back in July by persuading huge companies like Mircosoft, Adidas, Ford, Coca-Cola, and more to temporarily halt their spending on the platform.
Despite all the mounting pressure, it is still unclear if Facebook will take any drastic steps.
During an interview with the Financial Times on Tuesday, Facebook’s Head of Global Affairs Nick Clegg said that the company will take serious steps to “restrict the circulation of content” on the platform if the presidential election descends into widespread chaos or violent unrest.
While Clegg did not provide any specifics, he did say the company had plans for a variety of outcomes, including civic unrest or having in-person votes counted faster than mail-in ballots.
While the country prepares for what is widely expected to be an incredibly contentious race, many worry that Facebook is not doing enough to prevent unrest, violence, and the misinformation in the lead up to Nov. 3rd.
As far as if Facebook will heed the demands that it do more before the election, that remains to be unseen.
“As well as fighting a rising tide of misinformation from both foreign and domestic operatives, experts warn that Facebook must prevent the platform from being used to foment violence,” The Times wrote.
“Mr. Clegg said Facebook was carrying out ‘proactive sweeps’ for dangerous groups and incitement, including ‘in areas where we know that their activity is likely to be more pronounced in other parts of the country.’”