Search results brought to you by Google Biased.
“‘There’s this crazy idea that all the billions of webpages have been thoroughly vetted and reviewed, and this omniscient source found the best,’ says Dr. Robert Epstein, a psychologist from Harvard and former editor of Psychology Today who studies how search engines affect behavior. ‘That whoever or whatever is doing the searching for us is infallible and omniscient.'”
Google is not God but many may think it is. How can we compete against this all-knowing force that dynamically organizes all of the information in the world? One way is to play by the rules. Although, we don’t know for sure if those rules automatically put everything Google at the top, it does seem that Google can cater search engine results for the user and, as of late for its own brand.
Sounds more like an ego-stroking algorithm to me. Then again it is only an algorithm and it can therefore only do what it is programmed to do. It can’t think for itself but of course any “if-else” statements will make it seem like it can:
Here’s a test we can all do to see whether or not search results are biased:
- Do the same search on several different search engines
- Repeat the search but logged in from different accounts
- Compile the data and analyze
- Ask: “Is Google biased?”
I am sure we will see results favored towards the user. For example, if you have been searching “pro-Donald Trump”, Google will bring you those kinds of results first and then put any negative Donald Trump posts towards the bottom. A study done in 2014 by Searchmetrics states, “for Universal Search 2014, there is one clear winner – Google itself. In addition to the growth of YouTube video results, Google Shopping results (Product Listing Ads) increased strongly.” The data from that study is from end of 2013 beginning of 2014 so Google has been up to this for quite some time now.
Another factor that was made evident by the Universal Search Integrations Study of 2015 by Searchmetrics is that Google has been favoring its products in the search results (“shopping”). A search integration is anything that comes up in the search results other than the normal blue links we’re used to, like YouTube videos, Google Shopping, Google Local Businesses etc. If you were Google how would you leverage search results? I have a created a discussion on LinkedIn about this here.
This quote from a post titled: “The Web We Have To Save” by By Hossein Derakhshan:
You open Twitter or Facebook on your smartphone and dive deep in. The mountain has come to you. Algorithms have picked everything for you. According to what you or your friends have read or seen before, they predict what you might like to see. It feels great not to waste time in finding interesting things on so many websites.