Thursday, October 26, 2017

"Key Google Searches Only Showed Republican Candidate In Montana House Special Election"

In the final days before Montana’s special House election earlier this year, the digital media vendor for Rob Quist, the Democratic candidate, noticed a crucial problem. The only candidate appearing on Google’s results page for common searches like “Montana special election candidates” was Greg Gianforte, the Republican.

A tech team hired by Daniel Beckman, the managing director of Quist’s digital vendor IB5k, alerted the campaign that it wasn’t an isolated glitch. It turned out that for almost the entire race, only Gianforte showed up in what Google calls its “Instant Answers” box.


Beckman soon found out how difficult it would be to fix the Google problem. He tried to bring the issue to the attention of his Google advertising representative, but was told that there is a strict firewall between the advertising team and the search product team.

The representative told Beckman in an email that he could not even provide guidance on whom he might contact to resolve the problem. “Please let me know if there’s anything I can do to help on the ads front,” the representative responded in an email provided to HuffPost.

Google provides a feedback form to file complaints about search results, which Beckman filled out. The feedback form, though, didn’t even send an automated email noting that the complaint was received.

There was little time before election day and Beckman needed to resolve the issue quickly. But he was lucky ― having worked on former President Barack Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign and lived in San Francisco, he had contacts who worked at Google or knew people who did.