Big Tech’s Influence on Public Viewpoint and Elections Through Targeted Messaging

Dr. Robert Epstein, a psy­chol­o­gist, pro­fes­sor, and author, spoke about the impact big tech com­pa­nies have on shap­ing the views of the Amer­i­can pub­lic, the world, and poten­tial­ly, even our elections.

Epstein and his team, includ­ing 733 field agents, took a deep dive into how tech com­pa­nies like Google uti­lize ephemer­al expe­ri­ences to influ­ence views. His team essen­tial­ly looked over the shoul­ders of their field agents to record and mon­i­tor what they saw on their com­put­ers’ inter­net pages. The field agents were a fair­ly even mix of reg­is­tered Repub­li­cans, Democ­rats, and Independents.

“Ephemer­al expe­ri­ences like search results or reminders on the home­page, or search sug­ges­tions, news feeds, they’re ephemer­al. They appear in front of your eyes, they impact you, they dis­ap­pear, they’re gone for­ev­er. No one can go back in time and see what these com­pa­nies were show­ing peo­ple or say­ing to peo­ple on their per­son­al assis­tant devices,” Epstein said.

They pre­served more than half a mil­lion “ephemer­al expe­ri­ences” includ­ing search results from Google, Yahoo, Bing, Face­book home pages, and YouTube sequences.

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