“The debunked study you’re referring to was based on 21 undecided voters,” the former secretary of state, 71, replied to Trump on Twitter on Monday. “For context that’s about half the number of people associated with your campaign who have been indicted.”
Trump, 73, has long pushed nonsense allegations of voter fraud, at one point even claiming that voters cast multiple ballots by returning to polling places over and over again in new outfits.
On Monday, he brought up the topic once again — this time to insist that Google must have “manipulated” millions of votes for Clinton in the 2016 presidential election. He narrowly won the Electoral College but lost the popular vote by nearly three million.
“Wow, Report Just Out! Google manipulated from 2.6 million to 16 million votes for Hillary Clinton in 2016 Election!” Trump tweeted, adding, “Google should be sued. My victory was even bigger than thought!”
The president did not identify or link to a specific report, though the one he’s apparently referring to was published in 2017 by psychologist Robert Epstein, who testified before Congress in July at a hearing called “Google and Censorship through Search Engines.”
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. https://t.co/0zHnWvGjSv— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) August 19, 2019
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As CNN notes, Epstein’s conclusion that Google could have helped sway millions of undecided voters into voting for Clinton re-emerged Monday morning on Fox Business, which is likely how it caught the eye of the president, an avowed viewer.
Clinton was quick to respond to Trump’s latest jab with one of her own that questioned the validity of Epstein’s research — and poked at Trump’s circle.
Epstein, a self-proclaimed Clinton supporter, published a white paper in 2017 that was based on the daily online searches of 95 participants, 21 of whom described themselves as undecided voters heading into the 2016 election.
In his July testimony, Epstein explained that he preserved more than 13,000 election-related searches prior to Election Day and found that Google’s search results were “significantly biased” in favor of Clinton. He also said he’d conducted “dozens of controlled experiments that measure how opinions shift when search results are biased.”
Because of this, he said, he estimated that the search results could shift voting preferences by 20 percent or more, and estimated that Google’s search algorithm, which he said favored Clinton, then likely shifted between 2.6 and 10.4 million votes toward her. (Where Trump got his 16 million votes figure remains unclear.)
But when Epstein addressed the president’s latest tweet with the New York Times, he told the paper: “I’ve never said Google manipulated the 2016 elections. The range of numbers he listed in the tweet is also incorrect.”
Other experts have challenged Epstein’s logic about influencing voters as overly facile, according to the Times, and Google has dismissed Epstein’s analysis.
“This researcher’s inaccurate claim has been debunked since it was made in 2016,” a company spokesperson told Business Insider. “As we stated then, we have never re-ranked or altered search results to manipulate political sentiment. Our goal is to always prove people with access to high quality, relevant information for their queries, without regard to political viewpoint.”