After yesterday’s much read article concerning SourceFed’s video accusing Google of manipulating search for the benefit of Hillary Clinton, I began getting emails defending Google or providing additional reasons why Google may be guilty. We followed up yesterday’s article with a Medium rebuttal from Rhea Drysdale which provided her reasoning on why SourceFed’s logic was flawed. Earlier this morning we published yet another article, this time with Google’s response on the situation. Now we’re back with yet more information for our readers to sift through and come to their own conclusions. With all of the resources at their disposal, is it true that Google controls your opinion? Chris Zook makes a compelling presentation through a series of infographics.
It’s important to note that the opinions below are those of Mr. Zook and we’re presenting his findings in hopes our readers can have all the information they need to make an informed conclusion of their own. What follows below is a snapshot of the plethora of information Mr. Zook presents on his own blog and for the full context you should visit his original article. It’s also important to note that Mr. Zook’s presentation in no way proves Google was fixing results for Hillary Clinton, but it does open the door to a larger discussion of how Google is using their secret algorithms to shape the world we know.
How Google controls your opinion
Dr. Robert Epstein & Ronald E. Robertson tested several thousand participants in a series of experiments to see if online search results influenced opinion.
The results not only proved that Google influences public opinion — but also showed how Google does it. Epstein & Robertson coined this phenomenon the Search Engine Manipulation Effect (SEME).
That has some dire implications for search engines as a whole. And since Google is the most widely-used search engine in the world (by far), that means Google is incredibly powerful in terms of information control.
So powerful, in fact, that Google can potentially impact every decision we make in a day — as long as we use Google in the first place.
Google market share
As we established earlier, Google is the most-used search engine in the world. At the time we gathered the data for this series of graphics (April 2016), Google maintained a hefty share of the search market.
Google’s history of search manipulation
Google has been caught manipulating search results multiple times and in multiple countries. They’ve paid dearly — more money than most countries see in a year — but it’s safe to assume that they’ve earned much more.
After all, there’s no telling how long Google has manipulated its search results or how else they may be doing it.
Google’s data cache
Google collects tons of data on its users, including discontinued products. It stores a borderline-astronomical amount of information on anyone that so much as even looks at a Google logo.
Unless you’ve taken precautions to throw Google off your scent, Google knows where you live, what you eat, when you sleep, how you talk, what you like, what sites you visit, and so much more.
Google and the FTC
The FTC found that Google was manipulating search results. Worse, they found evidence that Google’s search practices were actively harming innovation and the American consumer.
So, naturally, the FTC decided to do…
The problem with Google’s position
So far, we’ve established that Google has the means, motivation, and history to impact public opinion via search results — even if they’ve only used it to shut down competition in different verticals.
But with Epstein & Robertson’s research, the implications of Google’s power go so much further than economics.
The point of why and how Google controls opinions
Google permeates daily life for anyone who uses the Internet or a mobile device. They have some of the most popular and powerful digital products in the world, including a blazing fast and affordable Internet service.
That means at some point in your life — even if you’re one of the few people who use the Internet and don’t use Google — you’ve given some kind of data to a company you don’t fully know or understand.
In this age of easy access to virtually any information someone could want, it’s critical that you keep an eye on the personal information you hand off to other companies.
This is especially important today since Google frequently cooperates with governments and individual agencies, including those in the US.
According to The Guardian, the NSA already has all of the data on you that it could need from Google, Apple, and a variety of other top-notch Internet companies.
So when your personal information goes to Google, it doesn’t stay in Google’s cache. It also goes to the NSA, among other cloak-and-dagger agencies.
It’s important to know everything we can about the companies to which we entrust our lives to, and Google is one of the biggest companies who holds massive amounts of data on us all. This particular article is far from the minor gripe that SourceFed brings up and addresses the much broader issue of everyone’s data and opinions. If Google controls the strings and keeps those strings hidden, what assurance do we have that they aren’t indeed using those strings to shape the world as they would see fit?
This is a major discussion and major opinions and rebuttals will likely follow. I’m not sure everyone has the complete answer to the situation and even Mr. Zook is likely off the mark on some of his deductions. But having the discussion and making regular users aware of it is a start.
So what are your thoughts on all of this? Let us know your thoughts and comments below or on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.Source: Web Page FX
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