- 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)
As Unemployment Claims Rise, CA Officials Report Inmates Collected Millions in Benefits
- Unemployment numbers spiked for the second week in a row, marking the highest amount of new claims made since early October with 778,000 people filing. Over 20 million Americans are still collecting some kind of joblessness aid.
- Experts say this will only get worse as COVID cases continue to rise and states impose more restrictions. However, unlike during the spring shutdowns, struggling Americans and small businesses will likely not have any help from the federal government.
- Meanwhile, law enforcement officials in California reported that tens of thousands of inmates received upwards of $1 billion in unemployment benefits as part of a scam that officials described as “the most significant fraud on taxpayer funds in California history.”
Unemployment Numbers Spike
Another 778,000 Americans filed for unemployment this week, the Department of Labor reported Wednesday, marking the highest spike since early October and the second week in a row that new claims have risen.
According to experts, this data signals that the massive coronavirus spikes the U.S. has seen in recent weeks are slowing the economy once again. On Wednesday, the country reported a record 2 million new cases in the same two weeks that joblessness claims also went up, bringing the official case count to more than 12.6 million Americans infected and over 260,000 dead.
As the COVID-19 spikes continue, and with more state and local governments imposing new restrictions on public gatherings, limiting hours and operations for restaurants and bars, and temporarily closing down some businesses entirely, economists say this situation will get worse before it gets better.
Unlike the first wave of shutdowns this past spring, it seems almost certain that struggling Americans will have to weather these latest closures without any help from the government.
Already, many of the programs that gave trillions of dollars to unemployed Americans and small businesses under the CARES Act have expired, and most of the few remaining programs will run out soon.
That is especially concerning when it comes to unemployment benefits. According to a recent report from the progressive think tank The Century Foundation, unless Congress and the White House sign off on a deal to extend key programs, roughly 12 million Americans will lose these benefits entirely the day after Christmas.
But after months of deadlock, any hopes for a new stimulus package petered out when the election came around. Democratic leadership is reportedly attempting to restart those talks, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has said he wants to approve some kind of bill before the end of the year.
However, it remains unclear how all the problems that had deadlocked the lawmakers for months during the earlier negotiations will be resolved in time.
Inmate Unemployment Fraud
Meanwhile, states are still continuing to struggle with distributing unemployment benefits to jobless Americans.
On Tuesday, a task force lead by nine district attorneys across the state of California reported in a letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) that tens of thousands of prison and jail inmates — including more than 100 people on death row — have collected hundreds of millions of dollars in unemployment benefits as part of a scam that the officials say “appears to be the most significant fraud on taxpayer funds in California history,”
According to the task force, between March and August, inmates housed in every single California prison and in jails throughout the state filed 35,000 claims totaling at least $140 million in benefits, though the alleged crimes could total as much as $1 billion.
In most cases, officials said that the payments were given out in the form of prepaid debit cards sent to friends or family on the outside who would then later deposit the proceeds to inmate accounts.
In some cases, the joblessness benefits were sent directly to the jails and prisons. Sometimes the inmates used their real names, but other times, they used fake names and fake Social Security numbers.
In fact, prosecutors were tipped off to some of the cases by listening to inmates recorded phone calls, where they bragged about how easy it was the game the system.
As far as how such widespread fraud could happen, law enforcement officials blamed California’s Employment Development Department, which has been swamped with processing more than 16.4 million unemployment claims since March, resulting in a massive backlog of unfilled claims that, according to reports, has totaled upwards of more than 1.6 million people at times.
However, the task force also said that part of the problem was due to the fact that unlike at least 35 other states, California does not have the technology to crosscheck inmate rosters against unemployment claims.
In their letter, the officials called on Newsom to crack down on the rampant fraud and provide “significant resources” to do so.
Newsom, for his part, responded in a statement by calling the fraud “absolutely unacceptable,” and ordering the Office of Emergency Services to create a task force to help the prosecutors with their investigation.
However, as The New York Times pointed out, Newsom had already formed a “strike team” a few months ago to help the state’s employment department speed up claims and address other issues, including fraud at correctional facilities.
The district attorneys were still forced to form their own task force with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation after the reports of fraud in the employment department continued and the “strike team” failed to uncover the large amounts of fraud the other groups had seen.
Currently, it is unclear how Newsom’s new task force is different from the largely unsuccessful “strike team.”
These problems also go beyond unemployment. There have been frequent reports of CARES Act funding being misused, including by people using small business loans to buy luxury cars, as well as large companies or businesses connected to President Donald Trump Trump and members of Congress improperly receiving funding.
As Congress considers another much-needed stimulus package, these issues of transparency and accountability have now become paramount.
See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (NBC News) (USA Today)
COVID-19 Cases Expected To Surge After Thanksgiving
- With coronavirus cases already on a steep rise in the U.S, experts are warning that Thanksgiving travel and gatherings will likely make things worse. Canada, for example, saw a jump in cases after its citizens celebrated the holiday last month.
- Surgeon General Jerome Adams said that Americans should hold out for a vaccine, which is on the horizon, and be safe this Thanksgiving.
- A family in Texas is also waring against gathering, saying they learned how dangerous it is the hard way. After celebrating a birthday together, all 15 people who attended the party tested positive for the virus.
- On top of this experts are also warning against thinking a negative test clears you for socialization. In reality, you can test negative for the virus and still have and transmit it.
Warning From Surgeon General
As Thanksgiving looms closer, warnings against family gatherings are being echoed by experts and everyday people alike.
Health officials have been vocal about the threat the Thanksgiving holiday poses when it comes to the coronavirus. The U.S. has seen 12.4 million cases and lost 257,000 lives to the virus, and cases have been on a steep increase this month. The CDC has already warned against travel and experts have said that based on the spike Canada saw after its October Thanksgiving, America is set to go down a similar, or even worse path.
“I want the American people to know that we are at a dire point in our fight with this virus by any measure,” U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams said Monday on Good Morning America. “Cases, positivity, hospitalizations, deaths. We’re seeing more Americans negatively impacted than ever before.”
Adams said that with a vaccine on the horizon, Americans should just wait out this homestretch and stay put for the holiday.
“I’m asking Americans, begging you, hold on just a little bit longer,” he said. “Keep Thanksgiving and the celebration small and smart this year.”
Family in Texas Urges Caution
Health officials are not the only ones preaching this advice. In Arlington, Texas, a family that has lived the consequences of gathering without regard for public health is urging people to not make the same mistake as them. The Aragonez family celebrated a birthday earlier this month indoors without masks or distancing. Now, all 15 people who attended tested positive for the virus.
“We feel guilty for gathering,” members of the family said in a video encouraging caution. “All this pain that my family is feeling, this loneliness, this sickness, this longing to be healthy could have been prevented.”
“Please don’t be like my family and ignore the CDC guidelines,” one person said. “By staying apart we can fight this virus together.”
While most cases in the family were mild, one person was hospitalized for over a week.
“One moment of carelessness has cost us a month of peace, has cost us sleep, has cost us laughs, has cost us a lot of money,” one family member told the Washington Post.
Testing Negative is Not Enough
Many have still forged on with their gathering plans under the false idea that if everyone tests negative before attending, they are in the clear to socialize. However, experts warn this is far from the case.
Just because a person tests negative does not necessarily mean they do not have the virus. Tests are not 100% accurate and it can take days or even a week to test positive for the virus after exposure. Not to mention, people could come into contract with the virus between their test and the family event.
“A negative result is a snapshot in time,” Dr. Paige Larkin, a clinical microbiologist at NorthShore University HealthSystem in Chicago explaining to the New York Times. “It’s telling you that, at that exact second you are tested, the virus was not detected. It does not mean you’re not infected.”
While it might slightly minimize the risk of spread, it certainly does not eliminate it. More than anything, it gives people a false sense of security that they have a free pass to go wherever and see whoever they want, despite the fact that it still poses a large health threat.
See what others are saying: (New York Times) (Washington Post) (Associated Press)
Over 1 Million People Traveled Through U.S. Airports Friday, Despite COVID-19 Warnings
- Over 1 million people traveled through U.S. airports on Friday, marking the second-highest single day of airport traffic since the coronavirus pandemic began.
- The new record comes despite the fact that the CDC has issued a warning against travel for Thanksgiving, encouraging people to stay home instead because COVID-19 cases are already on a steep rise.
- In Canada, cases spiked after the country celebrated their Thanksgiving holiday in October.
- While cases were already increasing in the country, contact tracing has linked outbreaks to holiday gatherings, which likely accelerated the speed of spread.
Cases and Travel Both Increase
The upcoming Thanksgiving holiday is expected to worsen the already increasing coronavirus outbreak in the United States.
Currently, the country has seen over 12.3 million cases and lost more than 256,000 lives to this virus. On Friday, the U.S. broke its record for new cases in a single day, reporting 198,500 cases. The daily average has reached 171,462 cases a day and roughly one-quarter of all cases in the U.S. have come from just the month of November.
These circumstances paint a grim picture of what could come after all of the traveling and large gatherings that are expected to happen over the holiday, even after repeated warning against doing so.
In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has warned against traveling and advised that “postponing travel and staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others this year.”
The CDC told travelers to ask themselves questions, like if cases are high in their home or destination, if their method of travel makes social distancing difficult, and if there are travel restrictions in their area. If the answers to any of those questions are yes, people should “consider making other plans, such as hosting a virtual gathering or delaying your travel.”
Despite these warnings, air travel is on the rise in the country. On Friday, more than 1 million people passed through airports, marking the second-busiest day of air travel since the pandemic began. While this is 1.5 million people less than the same day last year, the travel surge troubles health officials who fear the virus could spread as people gather with their families.
Case Spike After Canada’s Thanksgiving
All the U.S. has to do is look to its neighbor to the North in order to find out just what kind of impact Thanksgiving can have on coronavirus cases. Two weeks after Canada’s Thanksgiving in October, the country saw a spike in cases. While cases were already on the rise at the time, experts believe that holiday gatherings contributed to and accelerated the spread.
“Cases were indeed increasing already, but we definitely saw an increase in the rate of transmission after Thanksgiving. And we know that Thanksgiving is important for a couple of reasons. One is through contact tracing data,” Dr. Laura Rosella, an associate professor and epidemiologist at the University of Toronto told CBS News.
Contact tracing in the country showed a significant transmission from household gatherings stemming from Thanksgiving.
“One local health unit that reported about 12 people being infected because of a Thanksgiving gathering,” Rosella explained.
“It’s not the only reason the cases are increasing, it’s not the only setting in which transmission is occurring, but definitely when people gathered indoors it did transmit COVID.”
Still, people are more likely to feel safe with their family, no matter how high the COVID-19 risk actually is. Superspreading weddings are among the strongest examples of this, as numerous have led to significant outbreaks because couples thought it was safe to gather with friends, family, and other people they trust.
“Many people don’t believe that you can actually catch it from your family and friends. They feel safe when they are around people that they know,” Karen Potts, the director of the Adams County Health Department in eastern Washington explained to NBC News. “And I think that’s why this sort of event happens. People just feel safe, and they go to the event, and it just spreads so rapidly.”
One August wedding in Maine, for instance, was liked to 177 coronavirus cases and 7 deaths. Many of those cases include people who did not attend the wedding. In fact, none of the deaths traced back to the wedding were attendees.
An October wedding in Cincinnati led to 32 of the 83 guests getting COVID-19, including grandparents of the bride and groom. In Washington, a 300 person wedding earlier this month has led to 17 people getting the virus so far.