Google CEO Faces Congress

Google CEO Sundar Pichai responded to U.S. lawmakers’ concerns about misinformation, bias, and other issues resulting from Google search algorithms.

Pichai answered questions about how Google search works. For example, Rep. Zoe Lofgren of California asked why bias exists is search results: when you type in “idiot,” he said, you get images of President Trump. Here is Pichai’s response:

"We provide search today for — anytime you type in a keyword, we as Google, we have gone out and crawled and stored copies of billions of webpages in our index. We take the keyword and match it against webpages and rank them based on over 200 signals, things like relevance, freshness, popularity, how other people are using it. And based on that, at any given time, we try to rank and find the best results for that query. Then we evaluate them with external raters to make sure, and they evaluate it to objective guidelines, and that's how we make sure the process is working."

Pichai then assured lawmakers, “We don't manually intervene on any particular search result." He also confirmed their attempts to improve information credibility:

"We are constantly undertaking efforts to deal with misinformation. We have clearly stated policies and we have made lots of progress in many of the areas . . . over the past year — so, for example, in areas like terrorism, child safety, and so on.”

As we saw when Mark Zuckerberg testified to lawmakers earlier this year, some representatives had fairly basic questions and misunderstandings about technology. At one point, a representative asked why certain images appeared on his granddaughter’s iPhone, and Pichai had to clarify, “Congressman, iPhone is made by a different company."

Image source.


  • How well did Pichai address the search result question about President Trump?

  • When Pichai said that Apple made the iPhone, laughter erupted. Should he have handled this question differently?

  • Watch excerpts of Pichai’s testimony. Assess his delivery skills, persuasive strategies, and so on.