Media

Google Employees Sought To Block Breitbart From Ads, Emails Show

(Photo by Michele Tantussi/Getty Images)

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Peter Hasson Senior Reporter
  • Leaked emails show Google employees plotting to ban Breitbart from Google AdSense, which dominates the digital ad market
  • The leaked conversation is the third example of Google employees seeking to weaponize Google’s products for left-wing purposes
  • Google CEO Sundar Pichai is testifying Tuesday before the House Judiciary Committee where he’s expected to be pressed on political bias at Google

Google employees sought to block Breitbart from Google AdSense less than one month after President Donald Trump took office, leaked emails from the company reveal.

Google employees sought to use alleged “hate speech” as a pretense for banning Breitbart from taking part in the advertising program, the emails show.

Barring Breitbart from the advertising program would have a devastating effect on the site’s ad revenue as Google accounts for roughly 37 percent of all digital advertising revenue. (RELATED: Top Ad Writer Behind Boycott Campaign Targeting Breitbart, Ingraham)

Breitbart obtained the emails and published them Monday night, one day before Google CEO Sundar Pichai is set to testify before the House Judiciary Committee. A Google spokeswoman confirmed the emails’s authenticity to The Daily Caller News Foundation.

(ELIJAH NOUVELAGE/AFP/Getty Images)

Sundar Pichai, chief executive officer of Google Inc., speaks about Google’s improvements in Artificial Intelligence and machine learning at a product launch event, October 4, 2017, at the SFJAZZ Center in San Francisco, California (ELIJAH NOUVELAGE/AFP/Getty Images)

Google employees crowd-sourced a spreadsheet of examples meant to show Breitbart engaging in “hate speech” as part of a internal lobbying campaign meant to pressure their higher-ups into removing Breitbart from AdSense.

“My team has been reviewing the site on a frequent (at least weekly) from the [original] fake news kick-off discussion,” Google’s director of monetization at the time, Jim Gray, assured employees concerned about Breitbart. Gray now is now Google’s director of trust and safety.

Richard Zippel, a Google publisher quality manager at the time, similarly noted that Breitbart was being watched closely. “When sufficient violations have been found we’ll take action at the site level,” Zippel wrote. It’s unclear whether Zippel is still a Google employee.

 (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Google CEO Sundar Pichai speaks during Google I/O 2016 at Shoreline Amphitheatre on May 19, 2016 in Mountain View, California. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

To date, Breitbart has not yet been removed from AdSense.

Google’s spokeswoman denied that the company’s advertising program is affected by political bias.

“We have extensive and very well publicized policies for publishers who choose to monetize with Google ads. We enforce these policies vigorously, consistently and without any political bias,” the spokeswoman wrote in an email to The Daily Caller News Foundation.

“We regularly and routinely review sites in our ad network to ensure compliance with our policies. These emails from early 2017 simply show the AdSense team explaining that such a periodic review was underway,” the spokeswoman said.

The leaked discussions are the third example of Google employees seeking to weaponize the company’s products for left-wing political purposes.

TheDCNF previously revealed that Google employees debated whether to bury right-of-center media outlets in the company’s search function. (RELATED: Google Employees Debated Burying Conservative Media In Search)

The Daily Caller and Breitbart were specifically singled out in that discussion as media outlets to potentially bury.

After Trump announced his initial travel ban in January 2017, Google employees discussed ways to manipulate search results in order to push back against the president’s order.

A group of employees brainstormed ways to counter “islamophobic, algorithmically biased results from search terms ‘Islam’, ‘Muslim’, ‘Iran’, etc,” as well as “prejudiced, algorithmically biased search results from search terms ‘Mexico’, ‘Hispanic’, ‘Latino’, etc.”

Follow Hasson on Twitter @PeterJHasson

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