A former Google engineer has released nearly 1,000 documents that he says prove that the company, at least in some of its products, secretly boosts or demotes content based on what it deems to be true or false, while publicly claiming to be a neutral platform.
The software engineer, Zach Vorhies, first provided the documents to Project Veritas, a right-leaning investigative journalism nonprofit, as well as the Justice Department’s antitrust division, which has been investigating Google for potentially anti-competitive behavior.
“I thought that our election system is going to be compromised forever by this company that told the American public that it was not going to do any evil,” he told Project Veritas in a video published Aug. 14. “And I saw that they were making really quick moves. … They were intending to scope the information landscape so that they could create their own version of what was objectively true.”
Vorhies said he worked for Google for eight years, making $260,000 a year, when counting in the gains from the Google stock he owns.
“I had every incentive in the world to stay at the company and just collect the paycheck,” he said, noting that most others would do that.
“But I could never live with myself knowing that, if Google was able to implement the plans that they were planning, that I, at the moment of choice, backed out because I was selfish.”
Vorhies first came to Project Veritas more than a month ago, disclosing some documents and answering questions with his face hidden and his voice disguised.
When he returned to work, however, Google sent him a letter demanding, among other things, that he turn over his employee badge and work laptop, which he did, and “cease and desist” from disclosing “any non-public Google files.” Afraid for his safety, he posted on Twitter that if something would happen to him, all the documents he took would be released to the public.
Google then did a “wellness check” on him, he said. The San Francisco police received a call that Vorhies may be mentally ill. A group of officers waited for him outside his house and put him in handcuffs. “This is a large way in which they intimidate their employees that go rogue on the company,” he said.
Vorhies then decided that it would be safer for him to go public.
Vorhies called Google a “political machine” bent on preventing anybody like President Donald Trump from getting elected again. He said there are other Google employees who “see what’s going on and they are really scared.”