Donald Trump had his first visit from Google CEO Sundar Pichai since last month’s election as the company gave him plenty of free publicity.
The tech giant on Thursday deployed “human decency” as it closed its listings of news articles and search results that were critical of the Trump administration. It let up on stories about Senator Elizabeth Warren who accidentally made a gay slur. “We’re not going to allow fake news on our platforms,” Google said in a statement to The Washington Post. “We make decisions about what our algorithms will show our users based on what we see in the information that we receive.”
“Freedom of expression,” the company wrote, “should not come at the expense of freedom of information. We believe this is in the best interest of users and our business, and we care deeply about providing users with a trustworthy news experience.”
When Google first deployed its policy, Trump’s self-declared authority over “fake news” apparently worried the White House more than a clean bill of health for the company from the press. Mr. Trump had already called the Google search for “Elizabeth Warren” a “violation of our campaign finance laws.” His late aide Seb Gorka, a former Breitbart editor, later said the regulations enforced by the Fair Labor Standards Act demanded that companies be exempt from such searches.
Despite their foggy understanding of American election law, the White House figures Google should be grateful to have their Internet services. During that meeting on Thursday, as Trump was listening, the White House reporter Samantha Bee asked if it was possible for Google to be “neutral.”
“Anything you’re guilty of should be for free speech,” Pichai said. “You are always and should always be neutral.”
Google executives may want to study up on the language of the founders of their company. Or better yet, get them to help write their next annual report.