President Donald Trump infamously won the electoral college vote in the 2016 presidential election, securing his ascent to the White House in an upset victory against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Apparently occupying the Oval Office wasn't enough of a victory, because 941 days into his presidency, he's claiming that Google somehow manipulated "2.6 million to 16 million votes" in Clinton's favor, implying that he was robbed of the popular vote, which he lost by 2.8 million votes—the greatest margin in American history for a winner of the electoral college.
Trump cited the Twitter handle of right wing conspiracy site Judicial Watch to back up the claims, but people were confused where he was getting this information.
Hillary Clinton, however, seemed to know exactly what he was referring to.
The claim appears to originate from Dr. Robert Epstein, a psychologist and former Clinton supporter, who claimed that Google manipulated search suggestions—or "autocomplete" search results—to favor Clinton over Trump. He claims this influenced a minimum of 2.6 million votes.
The study was based on 95 responses, only 21 of whom were undecided on a candidate.
Google said of Epstein's claim in 2017:
“We have never re-ranked search results on any topic (including elections) to manipulate political sentiment. Moreover, we do not make any ranking tweaks that are specific to elections or political candidates, period. We always strive to provide our users with the most accurate, relevant answers to their queries.”
The search suggestions Epstein references are, according to Google, determined by the users. A more popular search topic will travel up the ranks due to the volume it's searched.
The favorable search suggestions aren't the reason for Clinton's popular vote win, but—like the win itself—a reflection of her popularity.
The now-defunct YouTube channel SourceFed contested this claim, pointing out that unfavorable search predictions for Clinton were more common among Google's competitors, Yahoo! and Bing. However, search engine users 45 years or older are more likely to prefer Yahoo! or Bing over Google. This same demographic favored Trump in 2016, strengthening the claim that these results are user-determined rather than determined by the search engine.
The Washington Post provided further skepticism of Trump's claims and Epstein himself disputed Trump's take in correspondence with CNN fact checker Daniel Dale.
People couldn't stop cheering at Clinton's savage clapback.
Trump has frequently claimed without evidence that he was robbed of the popular vote. Though he blames Google now, he's blamed "millions of people who voted illegally" in the past.
Federal Election Commission Chairwoman Ellen Weintraub recently called Trump out after he once again made claims at a New Hampshire rally that massive voter fraud handed the popular vote to Hillary Clinton.
"The American people count on me, as the Chair of their Federal Election Committee to protect the integrity of our elections," Weintraub wrote. "So I ask you, once again, to provide any evidence you may have to the American people and the appropriate law-enforcement authorities to substantiate your claims."
Trump tweeted a conspiracy theory instead.
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