Who is Behind the Internet's Hatred of Joe Biden? | Opinion

Since early 2020, one could click on any Joe Biden-related YouTube video and see a flood of negativity. Almost all videos about Biden have a like/dislike ratio which consists overwhelmingly of dislikes and comment sections riddled with conspiracy theories, hate and an overwhelming sense of dissatisfaction with the president.

Throughout his presidency, Biden's overall approval rating has hovered above 50 percent, and his disapproval rating has hovered below 50 percent. According to Gallop, Biden's approval rating is nearly equal to that of the average approval rating of the last 10 presidents. So in light of these approval ratings, where is all of the hatred toward Biden coming from?

On the one hand, it could be the GOP and its constituents simply trolling. After all, only 11 percent of Republicans approve of Joe Biden as president, and 53 percent believe that the election was a hoax and that Donald Trump is still the "real" president.

On the other hand, it could be Russian troll farms. Troll farms are essentially state-sanctioned organizations contracted by foreign governments to fuel divisiveness in rival nations. These troll farms have successfully increased the divide in America and have had a considerably powerful influence on our elections. This is not an implausible possibility. A Business Insider report found that millions of dollars were allocated to troll farms in Russia every month for the sole purpose of interfering with U.S. elections. There is absolutely no reason to believe such operations ceased.

Who is behind online trolling? Google knows who is doing it. The evidence for their knowledge rests in their active removal of negative comments and dislikes from videos featuring Joe Biden. Specifically, Google has deleted 2.5 million dislikes from videos on the White House's official YouTube page.

Google officials stated that they deleted negative feedback about Biden because they were testing a de-spamming system to combat dislike mobs. Dislike mobs are bands of online trolls who weaponize the dislike button and comments section to discredit or harass people.

President Joe Biden hosts a meeting
President Joe Biden hosts a meeting about reducing gun violence in the Roosevelt Room at the White House on July 12, 2021, in Washington, D.C. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

There is good reason to be skeptical. Google and other tech companies have a history of corroborating with and yielding to the threats of Russia. Russia used Google in the 2016 election to spread misinformation by spending thousands of dollars on Google ads. Google has a verification system for running political ads—meaning you can't run political ads unless Google permits you to.

In terms of Google's transparency concerning Russia, if Russia wants something removed from Google's search engines, for the most part (roughly 75 percent of the time), Google complies. But concerning what Russia wants to remove, the second-highest request behind copyright infringement are removals based on "national security" concerns. Moreover, Russia substantially ramped up its demands for removal beginning in Donald Trump's presidency.

Russian propaganda conducted through social media is an undeniably common phenomenon and so too is Google's excessive collection of data. Yet, the latter has never led to the former's revelation; juxtapose these findings with the fact that Google's security team shut down a counterterrorism hacking operation run by U.S. allies in March.

It took longer for Google to impose restrictions on political ads to counter Russian propaganda efforts than it did for them to shut down a U.S.-backed counterterrorism operation by roughly three months. Likewise, Google has been much vaguer about the details of their counter-Russian measures than they have been about shutting down the efforts of U.S. allies. Perhaps Russia's persistent threats toward Google are paying off.

Even apart from YouTube comments, there's sound reason to raise our eyebrows about Russia's relationship with Google. Russia's sway over companies like Google is strong. Google has a history of yielding to their requests, despite Russia's patent immorality in their demands. Just given how much data Google collects, it's fair to assume that Google knows where all of the hatred toward Joe Biden on YouTube is coming from.

The American people deserve to know whether or not such hate is coming from domestic or foreign entities. Given Google's history of secrecy, it's doubtful that we'll ever see the whole picture. Nonetheless, whether or not the efforts to undermine President Biden on YouTube are coming from Russia or American conservatives, Google's secrecy on these matters enables the great divisiveness we see in the United States today. In this sense, Google is traitorous and hypocritical. It simply adds to the endless amount of evidence suggesting that Google has no genuine interest in free speech and is unprincipled in the face of making a profit from the United States' enemies.

Daniel Lehewych is a graduate student of philosophy at the CUNY Graduate Center, specializing in moral psychology, ethics, and the philosophy of mind. He is a freelance writer, powerlifter and health science enthusiast.

The views expressed in this article are the writer's own.