Hillary Clinton on Monday slammed President Donald Trump’s false claim that Google manipulated millions of votes for Clinton in the 2016 election, saying the “debunked” study Trump referred to was based on “about half the number of people associated with (his) campaign who have been indicted.”
On Monday, Trump made the allegation about Google in a tweet, writing: “Wow, Report Just Out! Google manipulated from 2.6 million to 16 million votes for Hillary Clinton in 2016 Election! This was put out by a Clinton supporter, not a Trump Supporter! Google should be sued. My victory was even bigger than thought!”
Responding in her own tweet on Monday, Clinton, who won the popular vote in the election by nearly 3 million votes, wrote, “The debunked study you’re referring to was based on 21 undecided voters. For context that’s about half the number of people associated with your campaign who have been indicted.”
The study Trump was referring to was by psychologist Robert Epstein, who had 95 people from 24 states, including 21 self-described undecided voters, conduct election-related searches using search engines Google, Yahoo and Bing. The researcher then had another group of Americans, hired through the crowdsourcing website Amazon Mechanical Turk, use a point scale to rate the supposed bias of the articles found on the first page of the search results.
An extremely pro-Trump article would get a minus-5, while an extremely pro-Clinton article would get a plus-5.
Using this method, he found that Google’s results were reliably more pro-Clinton, in both red states and blue states, than Yahoo or Bing results. Then, using his previous research from elections in other countries about how search results can affect voter intentions, Epstein came to a broad estimate of 2.6 million to 10.4 million votes potentially affected by search bias in the US in 2016.
In an interview Monday with CNN, Epstein, who testified in July about his findings before the Senate Judiciary Committee, rejected Trump’s claim that Google “manipulated” votes in 2016, adding that he does not have firm evidence even that Google intentionally manipulated its search algorithm or results, let alone votes themselves.
A total of 37 individuals and entities were charged by special counsel Robert Mueller during the course of his nearly two-year long investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Among them were a number of people connected to Trump’s campaign, including former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, his deputy Rick Gates and George Papadopoulos, a former campaign adviser on foreign policy.
CNN’s Daniel Dale, Marshall Cohen, Tal Yellin and Liz Stark contributed to this report.