House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., was quick to slam Google on Thursday after reports surfaced that an error in the Internet search giant’s Knowledge Panel listed “Nazism” as a tenet of the California Republican Party.
“Sadly, this is just the latest incident in a disturbing trend to slander conservatives,” McCarthy wrote. “These damaging actions must be held to account. #StopTheBias”
Earlier in the week, McCarthy tweeted out a video of his speech to the Council for National Policy, in which he also criticized what he described as efforts to thwart conservative ideas.
“Social media is being rigged to censor conservative voices,” McCarthy tweeted. “We will not be silenced. #StopTheBias”
The Google error, first spotted by political strategist Eric Wilson, listed “Nazism” among other GOP ideologies, such as “Conservatism,” “Market liberalism,” “Fiscal conservatism,” and “Green conservatism.” The news was first reported by Vice News.
Google’s Knowledge Panel pulls information from various sources from across the web, including Wikipedia.
“Google should apologize for labeling Republicans nazis,” Wilson tweeted. Wilson is the founder of LearnTestOptimize, which describes itself as “a community platform for professionals working at the intersection of marketing, technology, and politics.”
The error has since been fixed. When reached for comment, a Google spokesperson told Fox News the error was likely the result of vandalism on one of its sources.
“This was not the result of any manual change by anyone at Google. We don’t bias our search results toward any political party. Sometimes people vandalize public information sources, like Wikipedia, which can impact the information that appears in search,” the spokesperson said via email.
The spokesperson continued: “We have systems in place that catch vandalism before it impacts search results, but occasionally errors get through, and that’s what happened here. This would have been fixed systematically once we processed the removal from Wikipedia, but when we noticed the vandalism we worked quickly to accelerate this process to remove the erroneous information.”
Nevertheless, Donald Trump Jr. was among other conservative voices joining McCarthy in condemning the error.
“This one from @google is even more disgusting than @instagram putting up a note that those searching a # of my name ‘could cause harm and even lead to death,’” Trump Jr. tweeted Thursday. “So much for free thought or speech!”
Silicon Valley has come under fire in recent months for being seen as suppressing conservative voices, including from some senior members of the Republican Party.
During recent testimony before Congress, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was grilled by Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, about the company’s perceived “pervasive pattern of bias and political censorship.” Cruz pointed to a recent in which Fox News Channel contributors Diamond and Silk who were temporarily banned from the platform.
In response to Cruz’s question, Zuckerberg said that Diamond and Silk’s ban was an error. “In that specific case, our team made an enforcement error and we have already gotten in touch with them to reverse it,” Zuckerberg said.
The tech exec also noted that he was concerned about political bias in the tech industry, and he has tried to root that out at Facebook.
A source familiar with Google’s thinking noted that its systems are designed to detect if their information services have been vandalized.
“These generally work well, but aren’t perfect,” the source said, and when the company is alerted of an error, it is fixed.