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Wednesday, December 12, 2018

(VIDEO) Google's CEO has been asked to explain to Congress why searching for 'idiot' results in photos of Donald Trump

Google denies there's political bias in its search engine algorithms and answers questions over how much the tech giant knows about its users.

Google chief executive Sundar Pichai deflected US lawmakers Tuesday over complaints of political bias and intrusive data collection as the internet giant came under heavy criticism from conservatives.

"We build our products in a neutral way," Pichai said in one exchange with a lawmaker, and added later: "We approach our work without any political bias."

Pichai was called to the House Judiciary Committee following a series of attacks by President Donald Trump and his supporters claiming that Google and other internet platforms were suppressing conservative voices, despite persistent denials from the companies.

The hearing on Google's "data collection, use and filtering practices" offered an opportunity for lawmakers to confront the CEO over claims that the internet giant skews its search results for political reasons.

Google angered lawmakers earlier this year by refusing to send a top executive to a similar hearing with Facebook and Twitter.

The latest hearing comes with Silicon Valley under fire over privacy practices and manipulation, including by foreign governments, and possible monopoly practices.

Committee chairman Bob Goodlatte said it would be "sinister" for Google to manipulate its search engine because of its vast ability to control information people see online.

"The American people deserve to know what kinds of information they are not getting when they are doing a search on the internet," Goodlatte said.

Pichai, dressed in a dark suit, calmly responded to questions, repeating on several occasions that the company seeks to serve a range of viewpoints without bias.

He took on Republican Representative Lamar Smith of Texas, who said it was "irrefutable" that Google's search results were biased.

Pichai replied that "providing users with high-quality and trusted information is sacrosanct to us... we find we have a wide variety of sources including from the left and the right."

He said search algorithms reflect factors such as "relevance, freshness (and) popularity," and added that "we try to reflect what is newsworthy, what is currently being discussed."

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