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This Viral Video Accusing Google Of Pro-Clinton Bias Is Bullshit

"Google Autocomplete does not favor any candidate or cause."

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A viral video from the website SourceFed claims to show that Google's Autocomplete feature hides negative suggestions related to Clinton without doing the same for Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders.

Perhaps the biggest story we've ever done: Did Google Manipulate Search for Hillary? https://t.co/XRvBFxisa0

Specifically, the video shows that Google will not auto-complete searches for "Hillary Clinton crimes" or "Hillary Clinton indictment." Those same suggestions do appear on Microsoft's Bing search engine, which also powers Yahoo's search. SourceFed uses this difference to allege that Google has a pro-Hillary bias.

"The intention is clear," the video's narrator Matt Liberman says. "Google is burying potential searches for terms that could have hurt Hillary Clinton in the primary elections over the past several months by manipulating recommendations on their site."

SourceFed's video racked up more than 12 million views in less than a day and it has been shared hundreds of thousands of times.

Facebook: video.php

Many of the comments express shock and outrage at Google's favoring of one candidate over others.

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But Google says the accusations of bias are false. "Google Autocomplete does not favor any candidate or cause," a company spokesperson told BuzzFeed News via email. "Claims to the contrary simply misunderstand how Autocomplete works."

Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

The search company says there's a straightforward explanation.

"Our Autocomplete algorithm will not show a predicted query that is offensive or disparaging when displayed in conjunction with a person's name."

That means the company won't suggest what SourceFed was looking for even when connected to well-known criminals. For example, "Al Capone crimes" and "Ted Kaczynski crimes" also fail to auto-complete on the search engine.

It's also worth noting that a search engine's auto-complete suggestions are not the same as search results. Users are still free to search for anything they want about Hillary Clinton or any other candidate.

One of SourceFed's claims of bias is that while Google hides negative searches for Clinton, it shows them for other candidates. They used a search for "Donald Trump racism" as an example. But BuzzFeed News was easily able to replicate negative predictions about racism for both candidates.

Google // BuzzFeed News

SourceFed's only example of a "negative" search about Sanders was that Google auto-completes "Bernie Sanders soc" into "Bernie Sanders socialism."

Sanders has described himself as a democratic socialist for decades, and likely doesn't consider his association with socialism to be a bad thing.

A top Google engineer currently on leave from the company took SourceFed to task in a series of tweets on Friday. The claims in the video are "simply false," Matt Cutts tweeted.

1/ @SourceFed claims "Google has been actively altering search recommendations in favor of Hillary Clinton's campaign." That's simply false.

Cutts also seemed to suggest that SourceFed had cherry-picked its examples. For example, changing the search from "Hillary Clinton in" to "Hillary in" does in fact bring up "indictment" as an auto-complete option.

4/ Here's some live screenshot examples, including [hillary in] returning [hillary indictment] as first suggestion.

SourceFed did not reply to a BuzzFeed News request for more information.

Ishmael Daro is a social news editor for BuzzFeed and is based in Toronto.

Contact Ishmael N. Daro at ishmael.daro@buzzfeed.com.

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