President Donald Trump lashed out at Google Tuesday morning, complaining that the search engine giant had rigged results to just show unflattering stories about him.
"Google search results for 'Trump News' shows only the viewing/reporting of Fake New Media. In other words, they have it RIGGED, for me & others, so that almost all stories & news is BAD," the president said.
If Trump thinks things are bad for him, just take a look at the results for Hillary Clinton. If one searches Google for "Clinton news," the results are a good mix of unflattering stories, many about the use of her private email server.
Google searches can differ person-to-person and the algorithm it uses is ever-changing and somewhat shrouded in mystery. The search engine uses a variety of details to help craft results, including search history, a person's interests, what's nearby, the browser used and the type of device being used.
But for news stories, most people get the same or similar results and searches won't change based on what a person has clicked on in the past, said Crystal Dahlen, a spokeswoman for Google. But, differing results can come up as time passes or based on location.
A search Tuesday afternoon for "Clinton news" was topped by the conservative website The Daily Caller. "Sources: China hacked Hillary Clinton's private email server," the headline read. Another top result was from Sputnik, the Russian-owned media organization, with a headline about the same story.
Other results included Clinton's comments about the death of Sen. John McCain and a story about Clinton funding a dossier that's been used by special counsel Robert Mueller in his examination of Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Interestingly, when Trump made his comments Tuesday morning about Google, the first result that came up was a link from Fox News, Trump's favorite right-leaning network.
"Cohen lawyer admits he was anonymous CNN source for bombshell story on Trump Tower meeting," the headline read on Fox News. Other results included CNN, ABC News, The Independent and The New Yorker.
Google said in a statement that its search engine is not designed with the intent of promoting a political ideology but is instead aimed at generating "high-quality content" in response to user searches.
“When users type queries into the Google Search bar, our goal is to make sure they receive the most relevant answers in a matter of seconds," said Riva Sciuto, a Google spokesperson.
"Search is not used to set a political agenda and we don't bias our results toward any political ideology," Sciuto added. "We continually work to improve Google Search and we never rank search results to manipulate political sentiment."
Websites and news stories that appear at the top of searches are based on a system it calls "PageRank," which counts the number and quality of links to a page to determine a rough estimate of how important the website is.
Nevertheless, Trump's concerns could spark a war with the search giant and a possible push toward changes.
White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said Tuesday morning that the administration was looking into regulating Google's search engine to address Trump's thoughts that it turns up too many stories that are critical of him.
Pressed by reporters at the White House, the director of Trump’s National Economic Council said the administration was “taking a look” at federal regulations for the company.
“We’ll let you know,” he said.
Trump's tweet followed a report in a conservative media outlet over the weekend that suggested most Google search results for Trump pull up "liberal media outlets."
The headline of that story indicated that "96 percent" of results on Google are anti-Trump, the same percentage that Trump cited in his tweet.