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Google has a long history of media bias and favoring media outlets and views on the left.

Back in 2018, AllSides found a 65% left bias in Google News. That number has remained relatively steady: our latest look found Google News curated 63% of news articles from liberal media outlets in 2023; just 6% of media outlets were on the right.

Google was making headlines back in 2018 when then-President Trump made accusations of Google’s bias against conservatives. Accusations resurfaced again in  2019 when a Project Veritas (Right bias) video caught a Google executive saying that Google was trying to avoid another “Trump situation.”

In 2022, AllSides found the keyword “election” returned zero results from Center, Lean Right, or Right-rated outlets in the weeks leading up to the 2022 midterms.  A Google spokesperson claimed AllSides cherry-picked topics, and that our study was too short a snapshot to give the full picture of Google News — but when we ran the study again in 2023 for an even longer period of time, we got very similar results. 

Here’s a look at the timeline of Google’s bias.

2018: Trump Accuses Google of Bias; AllSides Finds Google 65% Biased to the Left

In 2018, then-President Donald Trump accused Google of bias against him after Paula Bolyard published an article on the conservative site PJ Media (Right bias) stating that 96% of results for the keyword "Trump" were from left-leaning outlets. 

Outlets on the left tended to critique this claim as “baseless” or name many reasons Google would prioritize outlets by quality and reliability, while outlets on the right tended to criticize that outlets like CNN (Lean Left bias) were defending Google.

Later in 2018, the CEO of Google testified in front of Congress on the company’s privacy policies and perceived bias against conservatives. He said Google operates on a popularity algorithm and the majority of online news consumers lean left, but no one ever got to the bottom of a key question: Does Google have an obligation to show users the other side?

Also in 2018, AllSides conducted our very first analysis of Google News. We found that 65% of outlets were on the left, 20% were in the center, and 16% were on the right — compare this to the mere 6% on the right we found in our 2023 study. 

Though our findings were that Google News was biased, it was beyond the scope of the study to claim it was intentionally so. However, given that Google was aware of its perceived bias, it had a decision to make regarding whether it wanted to continue to drive polarization.

2019: Just 20 Mostly Lean Left Sources Account for More Than Half of Google Results 

In 2019, Northwestern University published a study testing 200 news-related search queries. The audit found that just 20 news sources accounted for more than half of article impressions on Google News’ Top Stories section. More than half of those were rated Lean Left or Left by AllSides, and just one was rated Lean Right.

IMPORTANT NOTE: This graphic reflects AllSides Media Bias Ratings™ as they were in 2019. We rate USA Today, Al Jazeera, and NPR as Lean Left now.

The top 20% of sources (136 of 678) accounted for 86% of article impressions. The top three accounted for 23%: CNN, The New York Times, and The Washington Post — all of which have a Lean Left AllSides Media Bias Rating.

That summer, Project Veritas (Right bias) released a video of Google’s then-Head of Responsible Innovation, Jen Gennai, talking about Google’s attempts to create an algorithm based on “fairness.” In it, she seems to imply it is the duty of big tech companies to “prevent” the “next Trump situation.”

“Elizabeth Warren is saying we should break up Google,” Gennai says in the video. “And like, I love her but she’s very misguided, like that will not make it better it will make it worse, because all these smaller companies who don’t have the same resources that we do will be charged with preventing the next Trump situation, it’s like a small company cannot do that.”

The Project Veritas video also featured an “anonymous Google whistleblower” who claimed that Google is intentionally altering search results to promote a left-leaning agenda. He pointed to what he claims are internal documents that support his claims.

2022: 61% of Google News Results Are on the Left; Just 3% on the Right 

In 2022, AllSides found 61% of media outlets presented on Google News’ homepage over a 5-day period were from sources AllSides rates as on the left, with just 3% from outlets on the right.

The search term “election” returned no results from Center-, Lean Right- or Right-rated media outlets in the days leading up to the 2022 midterm elections. Twenty-eight percent of articles presented by Google News for this search term were from CNN (Left), and 16% of articles were from The New York Times (Lean Left).

Google responded to our study by saying, “Our systems do not take political ideology into account, and we go to extraordinary lengths to build our products for everyone,” the spokesperson said. “This study’s methodology is deeply flawed. It cherry-picked a few topics and ran for a very brief period of time, presenting a misleading picture of Google News.”

2023: Google News Bias Increases: 63% on the Left, 6% on the Right

Though Google had denied bias in the past, in 2023 it announced new features, including a perspectives feature. This was an opportunity for change. 

Yet when AllSides ran another analysis — nearly identical to the 2022 analysis, except this time, we gathered data over a longer time period — we found that Google News’ bias had gotten slightly worse. This time, 63% of articles were on the left, larger than the 61% share during 2022. While the share of Lean Right and Right-rated sources had increased slightly, it wasn’t enough to move the needle of bias.

2024: Google’s AI, Gemini, Accused of Racial and Gender Bias

In February, there was an uproar about Google’s new AI, Gemini, which users claimed only generated  people of color and would refuse prompts to generate images of white people, showing racial and gender bias. Google has since paused the AI image generator to fix the issue. 

While Google may never have been intentionally rigged toward promoting left-leaning views in its news and AI systems, it is clear that, intentionally or not, Google bias is pronounced. If Google wants to avoid accusations of bias and to present a broader view to its users, it has work to do. 

Clare Ashcraft, Center Bias, is the Bridging & Bias Specialist at AllSides.
Reviewed by Andrew Weinzierl, Bias Research Manager & Data Journalist (Lean Left bias), and Julie Mastrine, Director of Marketing and Media Bias Ratings (Lean Right).