SAN FRANCISCO — Sundar Pichai, Google’s chief executive, said in an email to employees on Friday that the company has never and will never bias its search results for political purposes.
Mr. Pichai’s message followed a report in The Wall Street Journal this week about an internal email thread from early 2017 in which Google employees discussed President Trump’s travel ban, enacted by executive order shortly after his inauguration.
The ban restricted travel to the United States from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen for 90 days and was met with wide condemnation throughout the tech industry. More than 100 tech companies — including Google — signed an amicus brief asking an appeals court to strike down the ban.
On an internal email thread at Google, employees discussed the possibility of including pro-immigration content in search, according to The Journal. The email thread was a brainstorming session among employees and none of the ideas were put into effect, said Gina Scigliano, a Google spokeswoman.
“Recent news stories reference an internal email to suggest that we would compromise the integrity of our Search results for a political end. This is absolutely false,” Mr. Pichai wrote in the email, which was obtained by The New York Times. “We do not bias our products to favor any political agenda. The trust our users place in us is our greatest asset and we must always protect it.”
Mr. Pichai’s email did not address recent reports that Google is developing a search product for use in China that would censor certain results at the behest of the Chinese government. Google employees have said in an internal letter that the project, code-named Dragonfly, raises “urgent moral and ethical issues.”
Google did not immediately have a comment on Mr. Pichai’s email to staff.
Google has recently been under scrutiny for whether its search results are biased after Mr. Trump said last month that the internet company was intentionally suppressing conservative news outlets supportive of his administration. The company did not show up at a congressional hearing this month that was attended by Twitter’s chief executive, Jack Dorsey, and Facebook’s chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg, to address lawmakers’ questions about social media manipulation.
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