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Trump accuses Google of hiding 'fair media' coverage of him

28 August 2018 - 16:23 By Reuters
US president Donald Trump sits behind his desk as he announces a trade agreement with Mexico on Monday.
US president Donald Trump sits behind his desk as he announces a trade agreement with Mexico on Monday.
Image: REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

US president Donald Trump said on Tuesday Google's search engine was hiding "fair media" coverage of him, without providing evidence, and said he would address the situation, although he gave no details.

In a pair of tweets, Trump said Google search results for "Trump news" showed only the reporting of what he terms fake news media.

"They have it RIGGED, for me & others," he said, blaming Google for what he said was dangerous action that promoted mainstream media outlets such as CNN and suppressed conservative political voices.

"This is a very serious situation - will be addressed!" Trump added. He did not offer any details.

Shares of Google's parent company Alphabet fell 0.6 percent.

While the exact science behind Google searches on the internet is kept secret, its basic principles are widely known. Search results on Google are generated by a variety of factors measured by the company’s algorithms.

They include determining a site’s relevance by counting the number of links to the page. Other factors such as personal browsing history and how certain keywords appear on the page also affect how pages are ranked. Popular news sites such as CNN.com and NYTimes.com, which many readers link to, can appear higher in searches based on such factors.

Trump has long criticised news media coverage of him, frequently using the term 'fake news' to describe critical reports. He has made social media, particularly Twitter, an integral part of his presidency. He has previously accused social media companies of censorship.

Trump's accusation of bias on the part of Google comes as social media companies have suspended accounts, banned certain users and removed content as they face pressure from the US Congress to police foreign propaganda and fake accounts aimed at disrupting American politics, including operations tied to Iran and Russia.

Companies such as Facebook Inc and Twitter Inc have also been pressed to remove conspiracy-driven content and hate speech.

Tech companies have said they do not remove content for political reasons.

Some Republican US lawmakers have also raised concerns about social media companies removing content from some conservatives, and have called Twitter's chief executive to testify before a House of Representatives panel on September 5.

Earlier this month, Alphabet's YouTube joined Apple Inc and Facebook in removing some content from Infowars, a website run by conspiracy theorist Alex Jones. Jones was also temporarily suspended on Twitter.