by Dr. Joseph Mercola
September 11, 2022
Robert Epstein is a Harvard trained psychologist who has
exposed how Google is manipulating public opinion
through their search engine so they can change the
result sof elections and many other important areas
research shows how Google is using new techniques of
manipulation that have never existed before in human
history. If this weren't bad enough, these tools are
ephemeral and leave no paper trail of their devious
According to Epstein's calculations in 2020, Google had
the capability of shifting 15million votes leading up to
the U.S. presidential 2020 election
Because Google has become an everyday tool that's used
for more than 90% of searches worldwide, as of 2020, the
company had likely determined the outcomes of 25% of the
national elections in the world
Search suggestions - shown in a drop-down menu when you
begin to type a search term - is another powerful
manipulation tool capable of turning a 50/50 split among
undecided voters into a 90/10 split, with no one having
the slightest idea that they've been manipulated
Google - A Dictator Unlike Anything the World Has Ever Known
who received his Ph.D. in psychology from Harvard in 1981 and served
as the former editor in chief at Psychology Today, is now a
senior research psychologist for the American Institute of
Behavioral Research and Technology, where for the last decade he
has helped expose Google's
manipulative and deceptive practices.
He explains what
got him interested in investigating the internet
search monopoly in the first place:
"In 2012, January 1st, I received
some emails from Google saying my website contained malware and
that they were somehow blocking access.
This means I had gotten onto one
My website did contain some
malware. It was pretty easy to get rid of, but it turns out it's
hard to get off of a Google blacklist. That's a big problem. I
started looking at Google just a little bit differently.
First of all, why
they were notifying me about this rather than some
government agency or some nonprofit organization?
Why was a private company
In other words, who made
Google sheriff of the internet?
Second, I learned they had no
customer service department, which seemed very strange, so
if you have a problem with Google, then you have a problem
because they don't help you solve the problem.
I learned also that although you
can get onto a blacklist in a split second, it can take weeks to
get off a blacklist.
There have been businesses that
have gotten onto their blacklists and have gone out of business
while they're trying to straighten out the problem.
The thing that really caught my
eye - because I've been a programmer my whole life - was I
couldn't figure out how they were blocking access to my website,
not just through their own products...
search engine, or through
Chrome, which is their
browser, but through
Safari, which is an
Apple product, through
Firefox, which is a
browser run by Mozilla, a nonprofit organization.
How was Google blocking access
through so many different means?
The point is I just started to get
more curious about the company, and later in 2012, I happened to
be looking at a growing literature, which was about the power of
search rankings to impact sales.
This was in the marketing field
and it just was astonishing. In other words, if you could push
yourself up one more notch in their search results, that could
make the difference between success or failure for your company;
it could mean a lot more income.
It turns out that this initial
research was saying that people really trust those higher ranked
I simply asked a question. I
wondered whether, if people trust those higher rank search
results, I could use search results to influence people's
opinions, maybe even their votes."
discovered through his subsequent research, which began in 2013, is
that yes, biased search results can indeed be used to influence
public opinion and sway undecided voters.
What's more, the
strength of that influence was shocking. He also eventually
discovered how Google is able to block website access on browsers
other than their own.
His findings were published in 2016 in U.S.
News & World Report. 1
Pose Serious Threats to Society
pose three specific threats to society:
a surveillance agency with significant yet hidden surveillance
As noted by
"The search engine... Google
Wallet, Google Docs, Google Drive, YouTube, these are
In other words, from their
perspective, the value these tools have is they give them
more information about you. Surveillance is what they do."
a censoring agency with the ability to restrict or block access
to websites across the internet, thus deciding what people can
and cannot see.
They even have
the ability to block access to entire countries and the internet
as a whole.
crushing problem with this kind of internet censorship is that
you don't know what you don't know. If a certain type of
information is removed from search, and you don't know it should
exist somewhere, you'll never go looking for it.
searching for information online, how would you know that
certain websites or pages have been removed from the search
results in the first place? The answer is, you don't.
Google has been investing in DNA repositories for quite a long
time, and are adding DNA information to our profiles.
Epstein, Google has taken over the national DNA repository, but
articles about that - which he has cited in his own writings -
have all vanished.
have the power to manipulate public opinion through search
rankings and other means.
"To me, that's the scariest
"because Google is shaping the opinions, thinking, beliefs,
attitudes, purchases and votes of billions of people around
the world without anyone knowing that they're doing so...
and perhaps even more shocking, without leaving a paper
trail for authorities to trace.
They're using new techniques
of manipulation that have never existed before in human
history and they are for the most part, subliminal... but
they don't produce tiny shifts.
They produce enormous shifts
in people's thinking, very rapidly.
Some of the techniques
I've discovered are among the largest behavioral effects
ever discovered in the behavioral sciences."
is Google's primary business, their revenue - which exceeds $130
billion a year 2 - comes almost exclusively from advertising.
All that personal
information you've provided them through their various products is
sold to advertisers looking for a specific target audience.
How Google Can
Shift Your Perception Without Your Knowledge
controlled, randomized, double-blind and counterbalanced experiments
have revealed a number of different ways in which Google can shift
The first effect he
discovered is called SEME, which stands for search engine
manipulation effect. For a full description of the basic experiment
used to identify this effect, please listen to the interview.
In summary, the aim
of his experiment was to see whether search results biased toward a
particular political candidate would be capable of shifting users'
political opinion and leanings.
"I had predicted, when we first
did this, that we would get a shift," Epstein
people do trust higher ranked search results, and of course we
had biased the search results so that, if in that first group,
someone was clicking on a high-ranking search result, that would
connect them to a webpage which made one candidate look much
better than the other …
I predicted we could get a shift
in voting preferences of 2% to 3%. I was way off. We got... a
shift of 48%, which I thought must be an error because that's
I should note that in almost all
of our experiments, especially those early ones, we deliberately
used undecided voters.
That's the key...
You can't easily
push the opinions or voting preferences of people who are
partisan, who are strongly committed to one party or another,
but people who are undecided, those are the people who are very
vulnerable. In our experiments, we always find a way to use
In these early experiments, the
way we guaranteed that our voters were undecided was by using
people from the U.S. as our participants, but the election we
chose was the 2010 election for the prime minister of Australia.
They're real candidates, a real
election, real search results, real webpages, and of course,
because our participants were from the U.S. they were not
familiar with the candidates.
In fact, that's why, before they
do the search, we get this almost perfect 50/50 split regarding
who they're going to vote for, because they don't know these
The information they're getting
from the search, that, presumably, is why we get a shift."
Effectively Masks Search Bias
Epstein noticed was that very few seemed to realize they were seeing
biased search results. In other words, the manipulation went
In a second
experiment, they were able to achieve a 63% shift in voter
preference, and by masking the bias - simply by inserting a
pro-opponent result here and there - they were able to hide the bias
from almost everyone.
"In other words, we could get
enormous shifts in opinions and voting preferences with no one
being able to detect the bias in the search results we were
showing them," Epstein
"This is where, again, it starts
to get scary. Scarier still is when we moved on to do a national
study of more than 2,000 people in all 50 states."
large-scale investigation revealed is that the few who actually
notice the bias are not protected from its effects. Curiously, they
actually shift even further toward the bias, rather than away from
As evidenced by
other studies, the pattern of clicks is a key factor that makes
search bias so powerful:
50% of all
search selections go to the top two items and 95% of all clicks
go to the first page of search results.
"In other words, people spend
most of their time clicking on and reading content that
comes from high-ranking search results.
If those high-ranking search
results favor one candidate, that's pretty much all they see
and that impacts their opinions and their voting
experiments revealed that this click pattern is the result of
Most of the things
people search for are simple matters such as local weather or the
capital of a country. The most appropriate and correct answer is
always at the very top.
them to assume that the best and truest answer is always the most
Google May Have
Shifted Millions of Votes in 2016 Elections
of the search engine manipulation effect can be immense.
having power to shift public opinion is one thing:
that power is another...
So, Epstein's next
target was to determine whether Google is using its power of
influence or not.
"Early 2016, I set up the
first-ever monitoring system, which allowed me to look over the
shoulders of people as they were conducting election-related
searches on Google, Bing and Yahoo in the months leading up to
the 2016 presidential election. I had 95 field agents (as we
call them), in 24 states.
We kept their identities secret,
which took a lot of work. And this is exactly, by the way, what
the Nielsen company does to generate ratings for television
They have several thousand
Their identities are secret. They equip the families
with special boxes, which allow Nielsen to tabulate what
programs they're watching …
Inspired by the Nielsen model, we
recruited our field agents, we equipped them with custom passive
software. In other words, no one could detect the fact that they
have the software in their computers.
But that software allowed us to
look over their shoulders as they conducted election related
We ended up preserving 13,207
election-related searches and the nearly 100,000 web pages to
which the search results linked...
After the election, we rated the
web pages for bias, either
pro-Trump... and then we did
an analysis to see whether there was any bias in the search
results people were seeing.
The results we got were crystal
clear, highly significant statistically... at the 0.001 level.
What that says is we can be confident the bias we were seeing
was real, and it didn't occur because of some random factors.
We found a pro-Clinton bias in all
10 search positions on the first page of Google search results,
but not on Bing or Yahoo.
That's very important. So, there
was a significant pro-Clinton bias on Google. Because of the
experiments I had been doing since 2013, I was also able to
calculate how many votes could have been shifted with that level
At bare minimum, about 2.6 million
[undecided] votes would have shifted to Hillary Clinton."
On the high end,
Google's biased search results may have shifted as many as 10.4
million undecided voters toward
Clinton, which is no small feat -
all without anyone realizing they'd been influenced, and without
leaving a trace for the authorities to follow.
Epstein's calculations, tech companies, Google being the main one,
can shift 15 million votes leading up to the 2020 election, which
means they have the potential to select the next president of United
Google Has the
Power to Determine 25% of Global Elections
Many who look at
Epstein's work end up focusing on Google's ability to influence U.S.
politics, but the problem is much bigger than that.
"As I explained when I testified
before Congress, the reason why I'm speaking out about these
issues is because, first of all, I... think it's important that
we preserve democracy and preserve the free and fair election.
To me, it's pretty straight forward.
But the problem is much bigger
than elections or democracy or the United States.
Because I calculated back in 2015
that... Google's search engine - because more than 90% of
searches worldwide are conducted on Google - was determining the
outcomes of upwards of 25% of the national elections in the
How can that be?
Well, it's because a lot of
elections are very close. And that's the key to understanding
this. In other words, we actually looked at the win margins in
national elections around the world, which tend to be very
In that 2010 Australian election,
for example, the win margin was something like 0.2%...
If the results they're getting on
Google are biased toward one candidate, that shifts a lot of
votes among undecided people. And it's very, very simple for
them to flip an election or... rig an election...
very simple for Google to do that.
They can do it deliberately, which
is kind of scary. In other words, some top executives at Google
could decide who they want to win an election in South Africa or
the U.K. or anywhere. It could be just a rogue employee at
Google who does it.
You may think that's impossible...
[but] it's incredibly simple …
[A] senior software engineer at
Google, Shumeet Baluja, who's been at Google almost since the
very beginning, published a novel that no one's ever heard of
called 'The Silicon Jungle'...
It's fictional, but it's about
Google, and the power that individual employees at Google have
to make or break any company or any individual.
It's a fantastic novel.
I asked Baluja how Google let him get away with publishing it and he
'Well, they made me promise I
would never promote it.'
That's why no one's ever heard of
Unlike Anything the World Has Ever Known
Another, and even
more frightening possibility, is that Google could allow its biased
algorithm to favor one candidate over another without caring about
which candidate is being favored.
"That's the scariest
"because now you've got an algorithm, a computer program, which
is an idiot... deciding who rules us. It's crazy."
While this sounds
like it should be illegal, it's not, because there are no laws or
regulations that restrict or dictate how Google must rank its search
actually concluded that Google is simply exercising its right to
free speech, even if that means destroying the businesses they
demote in their search listings or black listings.
The only way to
protect ourselves from this kind of hidden influence is by setting
up monitoring programs such as Epstein's all over the world.
"As a species,
it's the only way we can protect ourselves from new types of
online technologies that can be used to influence us," he says.
anywhere has ever had even a tiny fraction of the power that
this company has."
Epstein is also
pushing for government to make the Google search index a public
commons, which would allow other companies to create competing
search platforms using Google's database.
search engine cannot be broken up, its monopoly would be thwarted by
forcing it to hand over its index to other search platform
The Influence of
In 2016, Epstein
also discovered the remarkable influence of search suggestions - the
suggested searches shown in a drop-down menu when you begin to type
a search term.
This effect is now
known as the search suggestion effect or SSE.
"Initially the idea was they were
going to save you time.
That's the way they presented this
new feature. They were going to anticipate, based on your
history, or based on what other people are searching for, what
it is you're looking for so you don't have to type the whole
Just click on one of the
suggestions. But then it changed into something else. It changed
into a tool for manipulation.
In June 2016, a small news
organization... discovered that it was virtually impossible to
get negative search suggestions related to Hillary Clinton, but
easy to get them for other people including Donald Trump.
They were very concerned about
this because maybe that could influence people somehow.
So, I tried this myself, and I
have a wonderful image that I preserved showing this.
I typed in 'Hillary Clinton is' on
Bing and on Yahoo, and I got those long lists, eight and 10
items, saying, 'Hillary Clinton is the devil. Hillary Clinton is
sick'... all negative things that people were actually searching
How do I know that?
Because we checked Google trends.
Google trends shows you what people are actually searching for.
Sure enough, people were actually searching for all these
negative things related to Hillary Clinton.
Those [were] the most popular
So, we tried it on Google and we
got, 'Hillary Clinton is winning, Hillary Clinton is awesome.'
Now you check those phrases on Google trends and you find no one
is searching for 'Hillary Clinton is awesome.' Nobody. Not one.
But that's what they're showing
you in their search suggestions.
That again got my research gears
running. I started doing experiments because I said, 'Wait a
minute, why would they do this? What is the point?'
Here's what I found in a series of
Just by manipulating search
suggestions, I could turn a 50/50 split among undecided
voters into a 90/10 split - with no one having the slightest
idea that they've been manipulated."
YouTube, which is
owned by Google, also has enormous influence on public opinion.
Epstein, 70% of the videos people view on YouTube are suggested by
Google's top secret Up Next algorithm, which recommends videos for
you to view whenever you're watching a video.
Just like the
search suggestions, this is a phenomenally effective ephemeral
There's no record
of the videos recommended by the algorithm, yet it can take you down
the proverbial rabbit hole by feeding you one video after another.
"There are documented cases now in
which people have been converted to extreme Islam or to white
supremacy, literally because they'd been pulled down a rabbit
hole by a sequence of videos on YouTube," Epstein
"Think of that power.
not powerful for people who already have strong opinions. It's
powerful for the people who don't, the people who are
vulnerable, the people who are undecided or uncommitted.
And that's a lot of people."
The Creepy Line
Most people now
have Amazon Prime.
If you are one of
those who do, you can watch the following documentary for free on
Prime. It is well worth your time to do so. Epstein and many other
experts provide a very compelling overview of the dangers that we
discuss in our interview.
In my view, this is
a must-watch and one to recommend to your friends and family.
A question Epstein
"Who gave this
private company, which is not accountable to any of us, the
ability to determine what billions of people around the world
will see or will not see?"
That is perhaps one
of the biggest issues.
Epstein and others
attempt to answer this question in this documentary, "The
Creepy Line," which is a direct quote from Google's executive
chairman Eric Schmidt.
"Traditional media have very
serious constraints placed on them, but Google, which is far
more penetrating and far more effective at influencing people,
has none of these constraints," Epstein
"There are lots of good people in
['The Creepy Line'], lots of good data, and it explains my
research very clearly, which is wonderful. It explains my
research better than I explain my research.
'The Creepy Line' is available on
iTunes and on Amazon. I think it costs $3 or $4 to watch... If
you're an Amazon Prime Member it's free.
It's an excellent
Google Runs a
Total Surveillance State
In his article
3 "Seven Simple Steps Toward Online Privacy," Epstein
outlines his recommendations for protecting your privacy while
surfing the web, most of which don't cost anything.
You can access the
article at: MySevenSimpleSteps.com
"My first sentence is 'I have not
received a targeted ad on my computer or mobile phone since
2014.' Most people are shocked by that because they're bombarded
with targeted ads constantly.
More and more people are telling
me that they're just having a conversation with someone, so
they're not even doing anything online per se, but their phone
is nearby - or they're having a conversation in their home and
they have Amazon Alexa or Google Home, these personal assistants
- and the next thing they know they start getting targeted ads
related to what they were talking about.
This is the surveillance
The point is that there are ways
to use the internet, tablets and mobile phones, to preserve or
protect your privacy, but almost no one does that.
So, the fact
is that we're now being surveilled 24/7, generally speaking,
with no awareness that we're even being surveilled.
Maybe some people are aware that
when they do searches on Google the search history is preserved
forever... But it goes so far beyond that because now we're
being surveilled through personal assistants, so that when we
speak, we're being [surveilled].
It goes even beyond that, because
a few years ago Google bought the Nest company, which makes a
After they bought the company,
they put microphones into the smart thermostats, and the latest
versions of the smart thermostats have microphones and cameras.
Google has been issued patents in
recent years, which give them, basically, ownership rights over
ways of analyzing sounds that are picked up by microphones in
They can hook you up with
dentists, they can hook you up with sex therapists, with mental
health services, relationship coaches, et cetera. So, there's
that. Location tracking has also gotten completely out of hand.
We've learned in recent months
that even when you disable location tracking... on your mobile
phone, you're still being tracked."
This is one of the
reasons I strongly recommend that you use a VPN on your cellphone
and computer, as this will prevent virtually anyone from tracking
and targeting you.
There are many out there but I am using the one
Epstein recommends, Nord VPN, which is only about $3 per month and
you can use it on up to six devices.
In my view, this is a must if
you seek to preserve your privacy.
Tracks You Even When You're Offline
You can learn a lot
about a person by tracking their movements and whereabouts.
Most of us are very
naïve about these things. As explained by Epstein, location tracking
technology has become incredibly sophisticated and aggressive.
for example, which are a Google-owned operating system, can track
you even when you're not connected to the internet, whether you have
geo tracking enabled or not.
"It just gets creepier and
"Let's say you pull out your SIM
card. Let's say you disconnect from your mobile service
provider, so you're absolutely isolated. You're not connected to
Guess what? Your phone is still
tracking everything you do on that phone and it's still tracking
As soon as you
reconnect to the internet, all that information stored in your phone
is sent to Google.
So, even though you may think you've just spent
the day incognito, the moment you reconnect, every step you've made
is shared (provided you had your phone with you).
In terms of online
tracking, it's also important to realize that Google is tracking
your movements online even if you're not using their products,
because most websites use Google Analytics, which tracks everything
you do on that website.
And, you have no
way of knowing whether a website uses Google Analytics or not.
Steps to Protect
Your Online Privacy
To protect your
privacy, Epstein recommends taking the following steps, seven of
which are outlined in "Seven
Simple Steps Toward Online Privacy."
The last one,
Fitbit, is a more recent concern.
virtual private network (VPN)
In my view,
this is a must if you seek to preserve your privacy.
"When you use your mobile
phone, laptop or desktop in the usual way, your identity is
very easy for Google and other companies to see.
They can see it via your IP
address, but more and more, there are much more
sophisticated ways now that they know it's you.
One is called browser
This is something that is so
disturbing. Basically, the kind of browser you have and the
way you use your browser is like a fingerprint.
You use your browser in a
unique way, and just by the way you type, these companies
now can instantly identify you.
Brave has some protection
against a browser fingerprinting, but you really need to be
using a VPN. What a VPN does is it routes whatever you're
doing through some other computer somewhere else.
It can be anywhere in the
world, and there are hundreds of companies offering VPN
services. The one I like the best right now is called
You download the software,
install it, just like you install any software. It's
incredibly easy to use.
You do not have to be a techie
to use Nord, and it shows you a map of the world and you
basically just click on a country.
The VPN basically makes it
appear as though your computer is not your computer. It
basically creates a kind of fake identity for you, and
that's a good thing.
Now, very often I will go
through Nord's computers in the United States. Sometimes you
have to do that, or you can't get certain things done.
PayPal doesn't like you to be
in a foreign country for example."
Nord, when used
on your cellphone, will also mask your identity when using apps
like Google Maps.
as every email you write is permanently stored
It becomes part
of your profile and is used to build digital models of you,
which allows them to make predictions about your line of
thinking and every want and desire.
older email systems such as AOL and Yahoo are also being used as
surveillance platforms in the same way as Gmail.
ProtonMail.com, which uses
end-to-end encryption, is a great alternative and the basic
account is free.
Google's Chrome browser
...as everything you do on there is surveilled, including
keystrokes and every web page you've ever visited.
Brave is a great alternative
that takes privacy seriously.
Brave is also
faster than Chrome, and suppresses ads.
It's based on
Chromium, the same software infrastructure that Chrome is based
on, so you can easily transfer your extensions, favorites and
Google as your search engine
...or any extension of Google,
such as Bing or Yahoo, both of which draw search results from
Google. The same goes for the iPhone's personal assistant Siri,
which draws all of its answers from Google.
search engines suggested by Epstein include
He recommends avoiding
StartPage, as it was recently
bought by an aggressive online marketing company, which, like
Google, depends on surveillance.
an Android cellphone,
for all the reasons discussed earlier
Epstein uses a
Blackberry, which is more secure than Android phones or the
iPhone. Blackberry's upcoming model, the
Key3, will be one of the most
secure cellphones in the world, he says.
Google Home devices in your
house or apartment
record everything that occurs in your home, both speech and
sounds such as brushing your teeth and boiling water, even when
they appear to be inactive, and send that information back to
are also always listening and recording, as are Google's home
thermostat Nest, and Amazon's Alexa.
your cache and cookies
explains in his article:
"Companies and hackers of all
sorts are constantly installing invasive computer code on
your computers and mobile devices, mainly to keep an eye on
you but sometimes for more nefarious purposes.
On a mobile device, you can
clear out most of this garbage by going to the settings menu
of your browser, selecting the 'privacy and security' option
and then clicking on the icon that clears your cache and
With most laptop and desktop
browsers, holding down three keys simultaneously - CTRL,
SHIFT and DEL - takes you directly to the relevant menu; I
use this technique multiple times a day without even
thinking about it.
You can also configure the
Brave and Firefox browsers to erase your cache and cookies
automatically every time you close your browser."
...as it was
recently purchased by Google and will provide them with all your
physiological information and activity levels, in addition to
everything else that Google already has on you.
News & World Report June 22, 2016
Statista. Annual Revenue of Google from
2002 to 2021
March 17, 2017