Google Tampering with Search Results
If you though that you were getting the best possible results from your Google search you’re wrong. A Wall Street Journal investigation revealed that Google is manipulating its search algorithms to favor large businesses over smaller ones, censoring autocomplete results for sensitive topics like immigration and abortion, and even blacklisting some websites.
In plain English Google is practicing what is commonly know as censorship and playing favorites with its search results. Its been know for quite sometime that Google will displayed paid search results at the top of its pages and they are usually clearly marked as advertising.
But the WSJ investigation showed Google’s search search results for sensitive or controversial subjects were being replaced with “safer” results easily found on competing search engines like Yahoo!, Bing, and DuckDuckGo.
Google is denying that they are manipulating search results insisting that Google Search is built on algorithms and data gleaned from use.
Google spokesperson Lara Levin told the WSJ, “Extreme transparency has historically proven to empower bad actors in a way that hurts our users and website owners who play by the rules.”
Accusations against Google of search manipulations are not new. Yelp has complained of Google interfering with its mobile search results by covering mobile phone screens with its own version of Yelp. Consumers are forced to scroll down an entire page to see Yelp’s results. This is vital to Yelp because the company says that nearly fifty percent of its search activity comes from mobile devices. It should be noted that Google is not exactly hurting Yelp. The company acknowledges in its own internal documents that Google’s search results have not hurt Yelp’s traffic.
Google dominates the search engine market with more than ninety percent of searches done on Google. Google is simply better at search than other search engines.
But this does not exonerate Google. Former Google engineer Mike Wacker has repeatedly claimed that Google engages in manual manipulations of search results. Wacker also accuses Google CEO Sundar Pichai of lying to Congress about it.
These accusation are not good news for Google or the tech industry as Congress investigates the industrty over concerns of anti-competitive behavior and privacy issues.
When questioned by the House Judiciary Committee in December 2018 Pichai was asked directly by representative Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) if “there wasn’t some little man sitting behind the curtain figuring out what we Google is going to show the user.” Pichai replied, “We don’t manually intervene on any particular search result.”
But according to Wacker, who explained the process to Medium, he was able to find where Google had indeed altered search results regarding abortion. Wacker claims that Google had a special file regarding blacklisted topics. If search regarding sensitive topics were performed, an alternative algorithm would trigger alternative search results.
Breaking It Down
Can anyone be trusted with what goes into your head? Who decides what you read and study? Who decides what information you should have? Are you really informed with objective information of just what someone wants you to see?
This is the kind of question that is extremely dangerous when it comes to gatekeeping on the information super highway. Google should not be in the business of deciding what you see when you perform a search just because you use their product. But should it be required, by law, to provide you with the information you requested without censorship. Yes, Google should be able sell top listings and mark them as advertising. This is a business you know.
But in a democracy censorship is a poison that steers society in a chosen direction. But by whom? Information can quickly be transformed into propaganda intended to cause an action. If there is no other idea then the action will take place.
But we have a serious dilemma. If Goolge must show you the search results you asked for without prejudice then what if I want to learn how to make a bomb? What if I am looking for information about racial supremacy? What if I want to know how to poison my neighbor and not get caught? Remember Google in blacklisting some websites. So now, lets talk about Google search manipulations again.