In covering news stories about LGBTQ issues, Google News gives priority to “alt-right, anti-gay news websites,” Matt Tracy reported for Gay City News in October 2019. Intentionally or not, Tracy wrote, “Google is giving a big boost to the dark corners of the alt-right by ranking anti-LGBTQ news sites prominently in search results.” Tracy’s report was based on a week-long study of the top results for LGBTQ news identified by Google News, Google’s news aggregator.
In that study, Tracy found that Google News featured content associated with a number of people or groups that have been classified as hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Among the top LGBTQ news items highlighted by Google News, Tracy reported, were news stories that shamed and mocked lesbian, gay, transgender, and gender-nonconforming people. On September 12, 2019, one of the top search results for “LGBT” news was an article published by CBN News that Tracy reported “ripped ‘homosexual activists’ and quoted ‘soccer moms’ who were critical of sports teams displaying Pride gear such as Rainbow shoelaces.” (The Christian Broadcasting Network is a conservative evangelical Christian religious television network, which was founded by televangelist Pat Robertson.) The same week, Google News also highlighted a story from the Christian Post about how “ex-gay survivors” of the 2016 Pulse nightclub massacre in Florida had gathered “to proclaim their freedom from homosexuality.”
As Tracy wrote, “The prevalence of such sites and their anti-LGBTQ content among Google’s top searches is wildly at odds with how atypical such attitudes are in American society today.” Noting that Google contends that its search results are produced by predetermined algorithms, Tracy concluded that “questions remain about the unique elevation of bigoted platforms that could widely influence masses of people.”
Source: Matt Tracy, “Google Elevates Anti-LGBTQ News Sites,” Gay City News, October 9, 2019, www.gaycitynews.com/google-elevates-anti-lgbtq-news-sites/.
Student Researcher: Leslie Rivera (College of Marin)
Faculty Evaluator: Susan Rahman (College of Marin)