Search Engine Political Bias

May 10th

Left, Right, Or Center? Can A Search Engine Be Biased?

Biased Search Ads:
Ads are going to be inherently biased, as paying for them means that the person buying them aims to use that money to manipulate others to perform a desired task.

From time to time someone will go too far and search engines will say the ad is out of bounds. The process will repeat.

Are Search Results Biased? Working with a Limited Information Pool:
Lets presume that the search engines aimed to be completely unbiased. Search engines can only display information they know about. They can not serve up information that does not exist.

Creating Information:
Information creation is either a labor of love, or must pay for itself.

Ideally it does not happen, but if a site creates profit the business model is going to bias the content.

If information is a labor of love then it is probably going to be highly opinionated - showing the world from a biased perspective.

If you pour yourself into something at a financial loss hopefully you are gaining in other areas, or else why would you create it?

While the best answers are usually somewhere in the middle, it is much more exciting to propose something that is cutting edge or deeply rooted in some ideology.

Linking to Information:
People are more inclined to link into overtly biased information. Whether they like the person:

Some might think ABC is a bit out there, but this is just a briliant idea (link)...

or hate them:

XYZ is a real tool. This moron said "blah blah blah" (link)...

Political and religious related topics are going to come out with a higher ratio of biased to unbiased information. Stories where religion and politics overlap will build heavy linkage data.

In being somewhat biased people get more feedback (potentiall more content), more readers (can make more money from ads and thus can further the content creation, brand, and distribution), and more links (furthering their authority score). Using the results of this type of social network how could search engines be anything but biased?

Credible Sources:
The Wall Street Journal is branded as honest information about business and finance in a capitalistic society, and yet they are reporting bad quarters and shrinking some of their edition sizes to cut costs.

Do the people reporting about money not know how to make any?

Part of the bad quarters may be due to

  • the slugish stock market

  • rapid consolidation of wealth
  • uncertainty
  • trade and federal deficits
  • lack of trust in the market
  • and energy shortages.

They are also losing out due to the web being a faster moving and cheaper distributed advertising network. Another thing that really hurts them - and all unbiased trusted sources - is that I can read exactly what I want to from whatever channels I like. News biased the way I like it.

While news search algorithms can use systems like TrustRank to unbias their news results, you can't fully remove bias from search results.

Most people are not cited or remembered as social significant for being unbiased and centered. The channels (websites) which do not have to ask for citation (links) will usually beat out those that do.

Published: May 10, 2005

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