Emails between Google employees appear to show them discussing ways to alter the company's search engine algorithm so that results pages detailed ways of countering President Donald Trump's travel ban, after his administration restricted immigration from several Middle Eastern and African countries in January 2017.
The messages, seen by the Wall Street Journal, discussed ways to "leverage" the search algorithm to counter "Islamophobic, algorithmically-biased results from search terms 'Islam,' 'Muslim,' 'Iran,' etc." and "prejudiced, algorithmically-biased search results from search terms 'Mexico,' 'Hispanic,' 'Latino,' etc."
The emails were a brainstorm of ideas and none of the suggested tweaks was ever implemented, Google told the Journal.
A company spokeswoman told CNBC in an emailed statement: "Google has never manipulated its search results or modified any of its products to promote a particular political ideology — not in the current campaign season, not during the 2016 election, and not in the aftermath of President Trump's executive order on immigration. Our processes and policies would not have allowed for any manipulation of search results to promote political ideologies."
Staff on the email chain discussed ways to promote search results showing how to donate to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and other content "to keep people abreast of how they can help as well as the resources available for immigrations [sic] or people traveling."
One person wrote: "I know this would require a full on sprint to make happen, but I think this is the sort of super timely and imperative information that we need as we know that this country, and Google, would not exist without immigration."
The internal messages also included cautionary notes about engaging in political activity, and being fair and balanced, the Journal's report said.
The revelation comes as U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is set to meet next week with state attorneys to discuss concerns about anticonservative bias. Earlier this month, Twitter CEO and co-founder Jack Dorsey and Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg appeared before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce to address online election meddling ahead of the 2018 midterm elections, as well as perceived conservative censorship on social platforms.
- CNBC's Sara Salinas contributed to this report