A recent leak of Google documents has revealed a blacklist intended to alter search results featuring various websites, including numerous trading card, action figure and video game news websites.
On August 14th, conservative investigative journalism group Project Veritas leaked over one thousand internal and confidential Google documents to the public as part of their ongoing investigation into Google’s internal practices. The documents, provided by former Google software engineer Zach Vorhies, reveal numerous aspects of Google’s business strategies, such as their strategies for developing machine learning technology and their focus on diversity in hiring practices. (Related: New Google Leak Appears to Contradict Google Executive Jen Gennai’s Response to Project Veritas Video)
Among the documents is a file titled ‘news black list site for google now.txt’, which features a “manual list of sites excluded from appearing as Google Now stories to read”.
Google Now was a search feature that provided users with predictive informational ‘cards’ during Google searches that provided the user with further information based on their habits, though it has largely been phased out since 2015. The list is intended as a list of sites to exclude from search results, and many of the entries are unsurprising, such as various torrents site or The Daily Stormer. However, the list also features numerous right-leaning and left-leaning news websites, including Media Matters, the liberal news aggregator Drudge Report, The Christian Post, and The Daily Caller. (Related: Google Exec Jen Gennai Caught Admitting Company Is Taking Measures to Prevent “The Next Trump Situation”)
Interestingly, numerous video game and nerd-culture related websites were also included on the list, such as Gameranx, Pocket Gamer, MMO Champion, Toyark, the Yu-Gi-Oh section of TCGplayer.com, the Fire Emblem Heroes wiki, and the Maple Story forums. With their inclusion on the blacklist, these sites were effectively banned from appearing on any results from Google Now. It should be noted that the list categorizes these sites, and the aforementioned political news outlets, as “sites with high user block rate”, which indicates that these sites were potentially the source of frequent ‘blocking’ by users of Google Now. Whether this was the sole factor in adding a website to this list is currently unknown.
The full leak of Google documents can be downloaded from the Project Veritas website.