Most reasonable people would consider Google to be an inferior search engine if it surfaced results from the Daily Caller, Kos or Breitbart above those of NPR, BBC and the WSJ.
Search engines therefore surface the more authoritative / linked to sources first. These smaller sites are trying to achieve through regulation a level of prominence that they can't get in the marketplace.
For instance, search for "has Infowars ever been correct" on Google and then Duck Duck Go. For Google, you will see results that have nothing to do with the clear intent of the query, such as Wikipedia and mainstream news articles trashing Infowars. For Duck, you will get several results that actually answer the question.
Since Google pioneered natural language processing for search queries, and these sorts of queries worked fine years ago, the only conclusion is that Google is actively burying certain results to manipulate the narrative. Why does their natural language search break all of a sudden when I want to find out something that is unpopular?
They all directly address the query. Why exactly are they "awful"?
(In any case, this all seems a bit orthogonal to whether Google is right or wrong to prioritize widely-recognized news outlets over smaller ones when it surfaces searches for news articles, doesn't it?)
In any case, Google's results for this particular query are certainly less "correct". They are more of a non sequitur.
I strongly disagree, IMO actively surfacing a highly-relevant but incorrect result is worse than not surfacing anything at all.
As for determining what the "correct" answer is, the authority of the source is certainly a good place to start. Obviously nothing is fool-proof, but Yahoo! Answers is certainly less likely to be correct than Wikipedia, for example.
Now with the Google results, there is nothing even remotely relevant to my search, so I don't even have candidates with which I could do further research into their veracity.
Once again I think Google just thinks they are smarter than the average user, but it's making their search engine useless for certain queries.
And I don't like the idea that a search engine should be doing the critical thinking for users. That's more dangerous than the content they are supposedly protecting us from.
I don’t want Google to have an opinion. I don’t want Google to second guess me.
We are a long way, I hope, from, “Hey, Siri, what’s your opinion about....”
If this were happening 15 years ago, people would be outraged instead of supporting it. What kind of nonsense is this that the search engine should reinforce political stances? My political beliefs are my choice, and if I want to reinforce them, that's my prerogative. The search engine should not make that choice for me. Well unless you are baidu.com and backed by a one-party system.
Other search engines are no different.
You make your "personal choice" of ranking algorithm, by choosing which search engine to use.
A great benefit to Google would be that SEO would be hard to game because everyone has different filters. That is already sort of the case but it should be the user, not Google, deciding which narratives and aspects to filter.
Or maybe a text search equivalent to Yelp’s “re-search in this area” (after narrowing the map). Perhaps to be able to select some results and hit a “more like this” button.
I suspect Duck duck go's results come from Bing based on the result similarities.
First, there's a popular belief amongst their readership (for whatever reason) that this is not the case and that Google actively works against sites like these. Furthermore, if it doesn't currently work against these sites, it's taken for granted that if (for some reason) Zero Hedge became more popular than WSJ Google would work against it.
Secondly, if it were the case that Google would surface Zero Hedge over WSJ purely because of popularity is that ok? Is that what should happen? If Google does want to curate rather than using a "blind" algorithm does that change the way it's regulated and what it's responsible for?
I think this is something we haven't quite figured out as a free society. We recognize that an educated citizenry is a vital requisite for our survival as a free people (please don't over index on who the quote is attributed to).
Yes there are a multitude of media outlets on the internet which the citizenry can use to educate themselves. Are there moral hazards when the majority of the citizenry arrive at one or two doorsteps in-spite of the multitude of alternatives? What is the risk if what's served from that doorstep is detrimental to the republic?
Breitbart in particular has run a long series of articles featuring leaked discussions from within Google where there are calls internally to remove or penalize Breitbart from organic listings, and deactivate their AdWords.
They also discussed censorship on Facebook and Twitter amoung others.
They run these under the umbrella “Masters of the Universe”:
Breitbart articles discussing Google censorship aren’t radical alt-right preaching. You can strongly believe that Google is making informed and conscientious decisions about censorship and rankings on their platform, and then read a different perspective on Breitbart to understand the other viewpoint.
For example, in response to a question as to why when doing an image search on Google for “idiot” that Trump is the result (Currently he is 3 of the top 10 results. I mean, that is pretty funny actually) Sundar Pichai swore to Congress that Google does not manually intervene on any search result. Is that really credible?
Maybe it’s a little hard to quantify what is a “real” news site anymore. Some people assume this is self-evident, but I am skeptical of everything I read.
I sometimes find it entertaining to see what slant opinionated news sites will put on a story and compare it against the MSM.
Is Sundar and Microsoft working together now? But wait, are they also paying off Duck Duck Go??
These conspiratorial arguments that search engines are politically biased stems from technical illiteracy and/or a lack of critical thinking. The arguments are used as a distraction by certain people who want Americans to disregard any new information that may paint them in a negative light - and it is working on a subset of Americans.
It’s beyond question that Google manually intervenes in Search results in some cases. That could be entirely innocuous or concerningly dubious. The question is exactly how, how often, and should they be accountable for it?
If it's "beyond question" then it should be easy for you to provide evidence, right?
As with most conspiratorial arguments, you're trying to protect your opinion by using a false premise (and prevent people from questioning it).
That may be narrowly true of a particular article but it isn't true of the newspaper as a whole.
Bannon himself called Breitbart "the platform for the alt- right".
Fox News is a sharply right-wing news site with a very strong editorial bias. I don't like Fox News, but I can't argue that it doesn't belong in the same bracket as CNN. Breitbart does not.
You’ll say; This says more about Trump than it does about Breitbart.
I'm not saying that sites like Breitbart should be buried (boycotts, though, seem fair game). I actually like Talking Points Memo every once in awhile. But I don't use blogs as my primary news source and Google shouldn't promote blogs as if they are.
Ever since Bernie has made Amazon a target, considering Bezos owns both. For example he was able to berate them into increase their minimum wage. Some sources:
Just like most big tech, the leadership is in bed with the corporate democrats, who are in turn in bed with the military industrial complex, big pharma, and Wall Street.
While it isn't quite as bad I'd compare Breitbart more to Der strummer the Nazi Propaganda rag then to partisan newspapers or blogs.
Racist and bigoted propaganda is what you'll see over and over in it's pages. Stuff like claims islamists burnt down Germany oldest church.
I'd say it's Google's societal duty to censor them
As it turns out, we have figured a lot of this out. It turns out that a good way of deciding what is worth people's attention is to treat a link as a vote. We shouldn't be surprised or alarmed when that surfaces a few main choices, as most of everything is crap.
However as happens in almost every sphere of life, there's a good chance that the good stuff rises to the top (that would be that meritocracy that right wingers say they're fond of). Outranking the BBC for news is hard - it should be.
What its not for you to decide - even if you do suddenly start to decide to write in the style of John Stuart Mill - is that you like some ideas better than others and that you want to start forcing things on people that they neither want nor asked for in the name of 'balance'
And that’s even without the problem that the people running the papers/channels are themselves both powerful and capable of having agendas that don’t need to be aligned with those of their readers.
Unfortunately, “what is true (news|science|morality|politics|economics|history)?” is very much not a solved problem.
I mean no disrespect by this but I'm inclined to think Google knows more about the issue of link and click fraud than you do.
There is a reason that publications in Nature aren’t decided by Reddit votes, and it’s not because nobody can figure out how to integrate the two.
The question is: Is a simple popular majority a good way to decide what news all people should see?
It’s a great way to see what the majority echo chamber wants to hear, but that’s not really a good way to have a well-informed population.
Obviously discard any SEO trickery. But if Zero Hedge is being cited more frequently, being chosen from search results more frequently, etc. then people have found it more helpful, and presumably other people would find the same.
The whole premise of democracy (both the form of literal governance and the general philosophy) is that most of the people are correct most of the time. There exist other algorithms to combine human opinion, but they are wrong more often.
Yes, most political pundits were wrong in predicting Clinton wound win in 2016. But I don't think it makes sense for Google to try and "manually" curate that.
The point is that its not a search engines job to make that determination. People will decide for themselves and whatever the algorithm is, it should seek to remove the personal biases of the implementers and be blind. It should seek to serve the asker not change the asker.
I feel like there could be a term, similar to "uncanny valley" where instead of detecting the in-human traits of something attempting to appear human we see bias in something attempting to be unbiased.
They fairly pointed out the evidence of mainstream news sources promulgating conspiracy theories.
It is useful to make a distinction between news organizations and non-news organizations but it is not useful to apply any sort of value judgement of either based on that fact alone.
If Google detects more engagement towards "Yes" and flatearther conspiracy websites, should their search engine prioritize results that say the Earth is flat?
> If Zero Hedge is being cited more frequently, being chosen from search results more frequently, etc. then people have found it more helpful, and presumably other people would find the same.
> The whole premise of democracy (both the form of literal governance and the general philosophy) is that most of the people are correct most of the time.
1. Google's clickthrough metrics are subject to severe sampling bias.
2. The premise of democracy is seeking compromise across diverse opinions. American democracy has explicit protections against tyranny of the masses.
If NYT is regarded as an authority by a diverse audience across broad search domains and cited by other similarly broadly authoritative sites, while ZH is cited and viewed by a high-engagement but narrow and isolated audience, then NYT should be ranked above ZH. As it is.
Realize however that this is entirely hypothetical, as there is enormously more round earth information with extremely popular sites like wikipedia.org, nav.gov, etc.
My faith in democracy is strong that I believe this will always be the case, so long as the earth remains round.
 - https://www.forbes.com/sites/markjoyella/2018/05/30/fox-news...
 - https://www.alexa.com/siteinfo/cnn.com
> "Their results on Alexa  show a similar online trend, and that is very much in spite of the fact that Google is constantly 'recommending' them which is providing a major inorganic boost to their traffic."
It's a push for a narrow set of extreme sites who are extremely unpopular because they are conspicuously fact free misdirection toward scapegoating. They naturally fall behind reality based sites.
Nor is it unusual for that group to try to use the force of law to elevate, legitimize and eventually mandate particular propaganda. The only variation is which countries go down this route and which don't.
The whole idea of googles algorithmic approach is wrong and it’s real purpose is to let google manipulate what people see, rather than letting them choose for themselves.
People should be able to dictate to google how to find information, but instead, google wants to dictate to them how to find information. As has been mentioned already in this thread, and can also be seen on YouTube, google actively overrides users own specified preferences.
A clear example on YouTube is the “trending” section. It is basically googles “we want to present a Disney like site, with a focus on mainstream media”. This goes against the actual marketplace. Actual videos that are trending but not advertiser friendly or whatever else, will not be shown in this section.
Google wants everyone to see “authoritative” sites, because it is a propaganda model. The ministries of truth, even though they are clearly not even valid news sites. Most of what cnn puts out is politically-motivated propaganda. I still remember “the stock market will crash if trump is elected”. Hah..
Not that there is anything wrong with being ideologically progressive, but both sides of the political spectrum view themselves as reasonable because they are starting from different set of axioms.
edit: I do see it first if I search "donald reddit"
Google has to MANIPULATE it's search results to put NPR first.
The smaller sites are linked to more often but Google doesn't want you to see them for political reasons.
The smaller sites don't want regulation - they want and end to manipulation and censorship.
And most reasonable conservative people see NPR,BBC at least as garbage extremist left wing outlet, and would not want to see them at all.
Google has never claimed to order search results by the number of links to them. Otherwise the Flash installer (or whatnot) would be at the top of every search results page. :)
And it so turns out that finding and surfacing the best content aligns well with the number of people who link to that content, which creates a great product for Google, which aligns with Google making a profit.
You can't argue from a hypothetical where Infowars offers the best content, as Infowars doesn't offer the best content. If Infowars started offering better content than BBC, people would start linking to Infowars, and Infowars would rise in the search results. It's not Google's fault that a lot of Infowars content is low quality that people don't link to.
The lines between Google "watching the market" and Google "commanding the market" are very blurry. If you don't get featured, nobody knows that you exist, nobody links to you, you don't get featured. Otoh: if you get featured, everybody sees you, people link to you, you get featured.
Today Google is the tail that wags the dog and a purely popularity based algorithm is more concerning.
However it’s also unquestionably true that Google results are not purely a popularity contest, and then the question becomes whose hand is on the tiller and which way is it steering?
Clearly in this case it is steering towards mainstream media outlets which all slant a particular way. This does not have a small impact.
It's like saying Burger King offers "the best" food, because it's popular.
And there's not really a reason(besides a little bit of money) for Google, The global monopoly, to insist on doing that. It's not that hard to have an easy option for quality content.
For example: Google's forum search, which was cancelled.
Not really; no-one goes to Burger King because they think they are getting the "best" food. They think they are getting convenient, affordable and quick food. You certainly could argue that Burger King is enormously popular because it is very good at offering those three attributes.
You can observe that an objective unbiased media source in any realm with a biased and obfuscated view of reality would do less well relative to one that catered to that biased and obfuscated view of reality, which is why media sources even in the modern age are localised and tailored to the audiences which they are aimed at, prejudices, unfounded beliefs and all like MEMRI in the middle east, christian fundamentalist media like WND, etc. If you expand the scope of enquiry to all of possible human history you can very easily imagine that the media sources which would and have historically done best in the more ignorant periods thereof are obscenely biased and not at all "the best content".
If you think that BBC / NY times / WaPo ad et al are not guilty of the exact same kind of thing merely from a different perspective, well that's quaint and charming, but simply completely inaccurate. Nobody has the full story, everybody is wrong, and putting together the puzzle pieces on any issue requires extensive survey of a broad variety of perspectives and sources, and even then, you're going to fall victim to your own biases and simply become another part of the tapestry to boot.
There is no winning. There's just losing less badly.
Infowars never has the best coverage
Because it's a at best a crazy conspiracy site, and at worst a far right conspiracy site.
This is actually a massive problem with YouTube in which Google optimizes for time spent watching and ad time which drives a lot of people to far right and conspiratorial content. And a lot of people are complain I that Google needs to fix thay
Histograms of the change, for each party and year:
Has there ever been an example of this?
If the problem is the monopoly on how people get their news, then shouldn't that be what is solved?
No they can't because it isn't any different.
The article is suggesting bias. There is likely some bias at play but I doubt it is anything nefarious. And it isn't enough to account for the natural bias inherit in the system of news parroting.
> shouldn't that be what is solved?
I don't know. All I know is it likely isn't something I trust anyone at Google or the Government to get right.
How is that different counting quarters in the newspaper machines? Or copies sold?
The fundamental challenge in search is that you have two limited resources: display place and user attention span. Google won vs other search engines because they were better at figuring out what users were looking for and putting it higher in the listings.
Anyone arguing the reverse - that Google is driving opinion, not the other way around - is saying that they're massively sabotaging their core feature yet no competitor has been able to exploit this.
Fox News obviously has a large TV audience, but I'd be curious how that demographic maps to google usage. And it's worth remembering that it's not a "fox news vs cnn" comparison vs a "fox news vs the sum of the less-right-wing channels" comparison.
Every major platform is struggling with this.
Isn't this what has always happened historically with any new media platform, from print to radio to online? Storage space got cheaper, but human attention remains limited, so popularity and feedback loops are a human problem, not a technical one.
Google on the other hand, has a much bigger reach.
(edit) I think every downvote should be public with their name and reason behind it.
Something Steam has been doing is breaking down why a particular game is recommended (reviews, popularity friends, interests, other metrics,..) why not expose this data to users for news?
We build these systems to filter out the noise for us, but that doesn't mean we should be beholden to a black-box deciding what content we should see. The filter should be ours to tweak and knowing how it works is a first step to that.
Quite simply, because Steam is not Google. Steam's value is in all the games you want to play being on Steam, not in its discovery algorithm. It loses nothing by exposing that algorithm because even if you had it, you would not be able to build Steam as you do not have the games that are on Steam. It has vendor lock in.
There's no such lock in for Google. Google doesn't have exclusive rights to the websites it indexes and anyone could, it they had an algorithm as good as Google's (and the computing resources) build Google.
The only tech factor holding Google in place as the #1 search engine is that its algorithm is better than everyone else's. The algorithm is intellectual property that Google has invested billions of dollars in developing.
Providing the weightings (and allowing as some people are suggesting the ability to hobble Google's algorithm by using your own) would be the first step towards someone reverse engineering Google and be a material business risk for them.
What is preventing us from being smarter? From going out and educating ourselves? Thinking more deeply? Finding the truth? Introspecting?
Where do we get our thoughts from? Who guides our behavior?
There is a struggle going on right now to regain control of the human mind.
It used to be just a few major news/media outlets. Now it's the entire world.
Someone has to be in charge of the information we are given. Else chaos will consume us all.
No one is in charge any more. We have to fix that. People must be told what to think again. They are thinking too many different things to predict the future anymore and that is disconcerting to those in the old power structures.
....what do you think a business agreement has in it to describe the costs and revenue sharing?
Fox optimizes for user browsing more than the other major outlets.
Should googles tech workforce resemble that of the broader US? i.e. Would having a workforce that resembles the US signify an elimination of bias in the hiring process.
If you believe that Google’s workforce hiring should be free from bias, than can’t you extend the same argument to search results?
For those in favor of bias in search results, may I ask you to justify why?
An analogy is the train station newspaper example. What you're doing is arguing that all of the Google employees are inserting their own personal bias into search results, without evidence.
Can you argue in favor of bias in Googles search results? In an ideal world what should it be?
I don't love the 500lb gorillas of mainstream media, but they have skin in the game if they get caught pushing falsehood. Look at men who've trainwrecked their careers over getting caught in a lie - Olbermann, Dan Rather, etc.
Can you imagine smaller no-name media sources facing any real consequences in that kind of situation? No.
We need credibility again. Until somebody finds a way to algorithmize credibility, I'm happy with saying "only the big boys are assumed to be credible by aggregators".
To make it easier for people to accept the premise, let's suppose that we are not concerned about the United States. Say we are worried about some other countries.
The issue is that when only a relatively small number of the largest media companies show up in the results, that makes it easier for state or corporate interests to control the information stream that citizens receive. If smaller, independent outlets were surfaced more often, it would mean that in order to push any particular narrative effectively, there would be that many more media outlets to control. It could make it much more difficult for a government or special interest to propagandize, since they would need to influence a very large number of independent outlets.
And again I realize that many people here may not believe that government propaganda still exists in American media. But I think that most can agree that it does happen in many other countries at least.
But because smaller media sources are forgettable and have fewer eyeballs checking them, there's no record when they do something unethical like the large companies.
Rathergate would not happen with some small, forgettable news source. The falsehood would be pushed and unquestioned because nobody wants to play whack-a-mole.
The 'big boys' have more than enough bias, and tricks up their sleeve to bend the story to their liking.
Also, the current government under Trump despises most of the big boys for obvious reason, so pretending they constantly push government narratives again highlights quite a distorted sense of reality.
Just look at Pulitzers awarded for the Collusion story that's been proven to be fake. Or the anti-semitic cartoon they were forced to withdraw last month.
Somebody may have told you they were fake, but you should stop listening to them and go read the stories yourself.
Is this surprisingly low to anyone else?
Depending on how you parse it, only 10% or 20% of news sites traffic comes from Google.
When I worked in comparison shopping, 80-90% of our inbound traffic came from Google, as we failed and failed again to cultivate any loyal, direct users.
These 5 categories are roughly equally split in aggregate traffic -- somewhere between 15-25% per category. You're right that certain kinds of sites, like e-commerce, are heavily weighted toward search -- but this is not broadly or necessarily true for the whole "content universe" of news, information, & entertainment sites, including blogs and so on.
Our data reveal all sorts of interesting patterns that go against mainstream assumptions about how people read/watch content online. For example, a measly 1% of traffic to content publishers comes from Twitter, even though Twitter certainly seems like it drives way more than 1% of the conversation, especially in certain categories of content. I wrote about that phenomenon here:
If you care to go deeper, one of our data analysts, Kelsey, did a nice deep dive on the different kinds of traffic sources that resonate with different content categories here:
If so, I can say that over time, we have improved our use of bot lists, though that's just an IP blocking thing. Non-human traffic detection is not presently a strong focus of the company, though people have asked us to invest there. The issue is that non-human traffic detection is a somewhat gnarly problem in its own right, with its own vendors (mostly cybersecurity vendors) trying to figure that problem out.
We do know we are missing some traffic due to ad/analytics blockers and pi-hole style VPNs, which is fine.
In that study, we found that 32% of visits to pages were "bad visits" (page session <15s), a pretty high number, but that would include not just bots, but also humans queuing up tabs, Instapaper/Pocket saves, and so on.
I'm just a bit concerned that the Russian malware dudes were re-purposing their click fraud for astroturfing way back in 2015 and they had no problem just sitting and building dwell time instead of bouncing (https://www.trustwave.com/en-us/resources/blogs/spiderlabs-b...). I haven't been able to find anything indicating that US media companies have any kind of tracking to defend against or even identify a similar strategy being used to hit their article analytics to influence article production/placement, especially when it's now known that a Russian information campaign against the US was going on at the time.
I disagree - people care about delivery times, quality of goods (is it what I ordered), and in some cases, they are open to alternatives (I would like a cheap android phone, If you can give me a Nokia instead of a Huawei, I don't care).
Similarly for news, people may have some preferences in their browsing, but ultimately for breaking news it doesn't matter whether it comes from CNN or the India times if there's no opinion involved in it yet, and lets be honest, most short-form journalism has very little research/opinion
For long form/blog-like content I agree with you though.
While I certainly also care about price: it's not the only thing I care about. I care about length of warranty, user-serviceability and/or ease of return for defect or repair, and reliability.
Why should I spend $800 on something that the manufacturer only warrants is useful for 30 days? Why should I spend $80 on something that I can't repair using my own tools? Why should I spend $8 on something that breaks within a week and it's more expensive to return than buy again?
I take pride in the things I've acquired. I provide care and maintenance to them. I think only the poorest and/or un-savviest and/or lavish of people worry only about price.
> and you're comparing like for like in most cases so Google works really well.
I've found that most "marketplaces" provide really poor experiences for customers like me. Amazon is right at the top of the poor experiences. Google Shopping comes next in line. Even something like Newegg will frequently have some pretty iffy deals going on.
It makes you (me) really wonder about other "marketplaces" such as the ACA.
I think it's very different than comparison shopping - for news what someone you trust considers important and what communities you care about matters.
I usually only look at Google if I want to dive into more sources about a specific news item, which is fairly rare, and usually indicates I have reason to mistrust that something is covered properly by my usual sources, or if it's something that for other reasons will not be covered by my usual sources (e.g. let's say some local news item in a location where I don't know what the trusted local media is).
For comparison shopping on the other hand, I want to find who can sell me something cheapest - if your site shows up in Google, then I don't have a reason to go to you directly vs. going to Google and getting others too.
My guess would be that there are three things going on a least;
One is that news outlets are loath to let Google crawl them and post snippets, they argue that Google gets the 'benefit' without paying for the content. (this was used in a couple of lawsuits)
One is that Google may provide the advertising feed for news outlets that are shown, thus a double benefit to Google is that you go to their news aggregator, and when you pop off into a news story you continue to be served Google ads.
And finally, there is the polarization of people's news intake through a limited number of sources. Per my experiment I found after deleting the new sources I found offenses Google was unable to come up with additional "interesting" news sources, they just didn't crawl them or have access to them (or they don't exist I suppose). Regardless of the reason, the additional wasn't in their index to serve up.
Their algorithms can suggest amazing insight at times, but when you suddenly get stuff like "Local council changes bin days in Huddersfield" it's clear they have a long way to go to understand news relevance, especially when you were just passing through.
Searching for "Rex Tillerson" is the perfect example. (Remember him?)
Typical news searchers are looking for a much wider swath of news than just the latest on the former U.S. Secretary of State. In my own experience, that includes local news (what were all those police cars doing last night?) and lots of sports news, business/tech/entertainment news, scientific news, etc. Those articles come from a much wider assortment of news outlets, and I think Google does a decent job of finding them.
There's a limit to how many news organizations can generate meaningful coverage about Rex Tillerson. I'm at peace with the idea that Google has found most of the ones that matter.
I wish they simply skipped narrative driven, opinion filth and stayed with factual reporting from AP, Reuters, NPR, ...
In the last 5 years, NYT, WaPo,.. have wholly embraced narrative driven opinions instead of sticking with plain news, because anger sells
I think geography affects search results a lot. I'm in a blue city, but red state.
I've been hitting Google News without a logged-in session (but with my real IP address) multiple times a day for 5+ years.
I noticed the increase in Fox News as a source around the time conservatives were complaining about censorship a year or two ago. Interestingly, though, Fox News is rarely the source for a major political news story -- it's often their fluff pieces that hit my feed.
The article's data was far from closing the book on this topic.
As a user I would also greatly appreciate the ability to toggle news sources on and off, and/or to weight them, and to easily share those filters.
I don't know about now, but during the Obama administration Google actively participated in spreading narratives. It's not even a secret. Ex: Syria.
I haven't heard of that, could you link me to where I could read more?
IDK. Do we need more ways for users to create bubbles for themselves? Is the solution to avoid Google's preferred bubble just to let you build your own?
What Fox News thinks is completely irrelevant to me since I'm looking for facts. I should be able to tell that to someone who's in the business of curating my news for me.
I was literary thinking of that last week.
News at 11..
This study is just proving the Pareto principal and claiming its some big thing. Of course these outlets get most of the Google love, they're all linked to as sources by all the little news outlets, how is anyone surprised by this?
There are a few niche and highly specialized publications which I view (GQ, Men's Health, etc.) but for major news and in depth reporting I'm more likely to frequent WaPo, NYT, Vox, etc. There is a huge drop off in quality when viewing work from the mid-tier news providers.
I could be being naive but this seems like an echo chamber problem that faces websites attempting to surface content to you based on what you like or your network likes. This doesn't appear to me to be same issues of political-based censorship of certain people's accounts that we have been hearing a lot about over the last year.
Google shows users what other users like, and most of Google's current users favor a small number of major outlets.
I can appreciate that you may love RC Cola. But it shouldn't surprise you that most gas stations mostly stock Coke and Pepsi products.
If you think gas stations need to be more "fair" about which pop they sell, then I'd love to hear you explain how you think that should be done.
Section 230 , which in theory was supposed to protect free speech, is actually doing the opposite and giving Google and other major media companies the power to censor free speech and decide what you can see or not.
I'm sure the gas station would be held liable if RC Cola made their customers sick and they kept selling it.
Google is not liable for anything they publish/display, but still have the power to choose what they publish/display.
You can't have your cake and eat it too.
 - https://www.eff.org/issues/cda230
Choosing how to respond to a query string is the very nature of what a search engine does. It's utterly impossible to have one without the other. The more charitable interpretation of your argument is that there should be more "neutrality" in the algorithm, but that's also difficult... Should they be neutral to whether or not people are trying to manipulate algorithms with dishonest SEO? Should they be neutral to what other users like? Neutral to who else links to the page? Who decides which neutrality prevails where they conflict? Who decides if a certain kind of neutrality is more important than user preferences or market demands?
This is a rabbit hole of mutually exclusive goals and inevitable trade-offs that requires complex judgment. Government regulation in this area would be extremely difficult and troublesome, not just for economic reasons but also for first amendment ones. Free market competition in this area is going to be limited due to economies of scale, so that isn't perfect either.
And if you think that imposing traditional publisher liability for search engines is likely to make search engines censor _less_, you might want to think a few steps further down the strategic consequences.
I'm not proposing that we have a "fair" algorithm. I think two simple actions would suffice:
1) Google (and other platforms) should stop removing content from people they do not agree with in their platforms.
2) They also should publicize why one result was chosen over the other. That would give users the necessary information to decide if Google is biased or not. Everyone would make decisions based on publicly available information.
That alone would make things way more transparent and level the playing field a bit.
Unless Google doesn't want that. If that's the case, them they are a publisher and not a platform.
There are no politics baked in.
Google news will display what its users want to see.
Your issue is not with Google News. Your issue is with the users of Google news.
> They also should publicize why one result was chosen over the other.
Seems like this would make it much easier for the SEO spam sites to manipulate.
I believe it's factual to say that significantly more "conservative-related" accounts are banned than liberal ones? Is that because "they don't agree with" the conservatives more than the liberals? I dunno.
I can probably find a lot more, but I guess this is enough to make the point, right?
> Unless Google doesn't want that. If that's the case, them they are a publisher and not a platform.
Would you rather fight spammers and keep free-speech alive or give it up over to Google and other platforms?
I know where I stand.
Spam is a form of censorship. Too much of it and it becomes a denial of service attack that makes publishing impossible.
Let's say you claim you have free speech, because you can go into any park, stand on a soapbox, and give a speech. Only, I have blanketed every major park with loud speakers that overwhelm what you say with noise, or GPT-2 generated fake speeches run through WaveNet.
I used to believe that 'the solution to bad speech is just more speech', but this was a naive pre-mass internet view of how speech and publishing works. In a word where robots can literally saturate every one of your media channels, spam up your email, your phone with robo calls, your text messages, the idea of these platform providers NOT filtering and censoring is itself a form of assault on free speech and public conversation in the town square.
What you described is a real problem and I believe that’s the problem we have to solve.
I’m not a lawyer but I’m pretty sure that situations like the one you described where free speech is negated are already addressed on the law. So spammers would be treated by it.
In that case, platforms would work to identify the sources and work with the justice department to prevent specific actors from performing crimes such as spamming and DDOSing.
This would be fine, in my opinion, because now everybody would be working against known criminals with specific and objective criteria as to why they should be “deplatformed”.
However, what Google is doing today is removing or de-prioritizing content that diverge from its opinion without any recourse for the person affected because they are not treated as publishers and THAT is not okay.
Alex Jones, for example, can run his own video hosting site if he wants. He's rich and could surely hire someone to build a site one on of the cloud providers, it's getting cheaper everyday. A big chunk of the HN audience could probably build it in a few weeks sprint on AWS on the cheap.
The whole point of the internet is that anyone can run a server on it. He is not entitled to publish from YouTube. And in fact, the argument that he has a right to be heard on there is only strengthening Google's monopoly and centralizing the internet by arguing almost the only way to host video, and exposing him to risk of deplatforming.
If you were a regular writer for say, the New York Times, or Readers Digest, or the Wall Street Journal, and had a huge audience, you had the same risk of sudden deprioritizing and deplatforming if the editor decided you were toxic. You don't have a right to free speech and free audience on private media platforms.
And let's be frank, what the tech companies are doing is responding to the public pressure, because the vast majority of people object to the content that's being deplatformed, and their advertisers object to advertising on platforms where most of the customers object to the content being associated with the product. A small percentage of angry political zealots on the extremes of both political wings are turning themselves into "victims".
The internet and web is the real public square here, the real printing press, NOT YouTube, Facebook, et al. And just like decades ago, if you found yourself unpopular and couldn't get your fringe magazine distributed on the shelves of major book stores, you'd self publish and self distribute to build your audience.
We need to get back to the way the internet used to be anyway. More people need to run their own websites.
What also makes sense for a private company and, in this case, a publishing company is that they are liable for what they publish.
That means that people can take action in the justice system if they think a contract was broken or any sort of harm was made.
Unfortunately, that is not the case with these platforms. You can't take action against them because they are not categorized as publishers, but as platforms instead which do not make them liable for things that they would otherwise be.
Make Google, Facebook and other "platforms" into publishers and this problem is solved.
I know downvoting is a tool that is available to us, but it really strikes me when someone is willing to cast a "negative" vote anonymously and most likely with no fundamentals attached to it instead of engaging in a respectful argument where all opinions are presented.
You can ask, beg, threaten, whatever all you want to for people to be objective and measured and to follow the stated principles, but people will simply vote you into invisibility simply because they have a knee-jerk, primate-brain reaction to the ideas being posted. This is not a problem that can be solved, here, or anywhere else.
It's a human problem, not a tech problem.
On that note, it's best to never complain about being downvoted. It only attracts more downvotes.
If you look into my comments, you will see that most of them are downvoted simply because I differ from the main opinion of the demographics.
While it makes me a little sad to see an unjustified downvote I think that in the great scheme of things it doesn't really matter.
I'll keep voicing my opinion, for as long as I can even if that means I'm going to be downvoted. Ah, that includes "complaining" about downvotes as well just to fulfill the profecy ehehehe.
The notion that you're somehow victim of a political bias is not well supported. You're essentially shouting, "Debate me you cowards" and that's why you're going to get downvoted more.
As a courtesy to you, I will explain that it's extremely likely you're being downloaded because your argument is essentially (although perhaps unwittingly? who can say!) an argument to censor all tech companies as publishers. This is an argument to use the government to compel conservative speech on private industry, while at the same time not once asking questions like, "Should we then force 20 minutes of Marxist/Leninist or Anarchist (or even just a scientist calmly explaining the reality of climate change) content onto Alex Jones's or Rush Limbaugh's show?
Indeed, throughout the course of this argument you're simultaneously arguing that Alex Jones should have unlimited speech but if Google does the same thing (highlighting what they consider to be reputable 3rd parties) they should be treated as a "publisher" and subject to fairness doctrine and stripped of safe harbor.
That's an awful idea. But what's more, it's patently obvious that you're arguing a double standard to anyone who is not eagerly to use the State's authority as a literal-and-figurative club even as the State itself skirts freedom of speech laws. And as such, it's likely folks are reading your argument, assuming it's offered disingenuously, and hitting downvote.
Here’s my point of view. The purpose of discussion, I believe, is to convince people of a given point of view.
That is done through rational and logical debate.
So when you say that I’m inviting people for a debate I have to agree. After all, isn’t that the purpose of a public forum?
If we can’t go deep and have meaningful discussions what’s the point?
Just do some virtue signaling and bash whoever is the person we are bashing this time?
When I invite argumentation I’m honestly looking for people to present arguments that can convince me. I’m open to be convinced, just not by empty argumentation and fallacies. What I’m getting, instead, is downvoting which reinforce the bias you said I have. Right?
Also, you mention that what I’m proposing it’s an awful idea with no counter argumentation. Is this how we suppose to convince people now? Especially the ones on the other side of the isle?
I used to do that too, but then, through argumentation I was thought that it is not how it should be done and in the journey I was able to help some other people to see that too and I’m proud of it.
I think that as long as there is respect we all can have a discussion and learn from each other so for whoever reads this and see any of my comments in future threads, please know that all my positions and arguments are made in good faith and only have the goal to promote intellectual challenging.
Lastly, I have not defended Alex Jones in any comment I made. To be honest, I read and hear a lot about him but I have no idea what his thoughts are. I’m just pointing out the fact that people are being “deplatformized” arbitrarily and I don’t agree with that.
This is what you'd like from this forum. Actually, political debates are not what I'm here for even though I participate sometimes.
> If we can’t go deep and have meaningful discussions what’s the point?
You're not really entitled to a sympathetic audience here. Nor is it necessarily obvious that you're debating.
> Just do some virtue signaling and bash whoever is the person we are bashing this time?
If you're mad that humans tend to influence one another, why are you here? Does it not infuriate you?
And what is virtue signaling if not this very post you've written, trying to appeal to a Hitchens-ian notion that only through debate of your style and terms can we reach truth. You're constantly reminding people of the importance of debating you foe the sake of the public forum and talking about "profecy" that no coward dares to debate you. Is that not itself a kind of virtue signaling?
> I’m just pointing out the fact that people are being “deplatformized” arbitrarily and I don’t agree with that.
The guy literally went to court, swore and oath to tell the truth, and told the court his entire show was an act to sell soy supplements. He's not news, he's not a content creator, he's a weird surrealist advertiser of postmodernist medical products. Advertisers don't get free rides, they have to pay.
Just as a datapoint, I just googled "Alex Jones" about 5 minutes after your comment and his Infowars website is prominently shown on page 1 as the 3rd result.
I don't have a Facebook account but it doesn't look like Google Search in particular has deplatformed Alex Jones.
(To the downvoters, this thread's topic is the Columbia Journalism Review story and it's about referrals from Google Search and not Youtube. The comment by liara_k is also specifically about the Google search engine and that's what tucaz was replying to. If my screenshot of Google search engine results does not contribute to the discussion, please explain why.)
Attempting to co-opt that for "free speech" by injecting stories onto their pages that are more agreeable to a "balanced" interpretation is not a free speech approach.
What's more, many of the headline proposals in this article text (e.g., Kaepernick and Tax Reform) are tough to give the rightward view on without facing direct misinformation, because the politicians on the right have engaged very directly in misinformation about taxes and deliberately tried to intimidate free speech in atheletes (above and beyond what influence the average American has). Saying that any news outlet should make a special exemption for calling these out to be "balanced" is to propose that telling the truth is a liberal approach, and I find that idea pretty repugnant on it's face for a variety of reasons (not the least of which being that it gives way too much credit to the center left of America).
As for Alex Jones, I don't know how many brazen and horrifying lies you need to literally go to court and plead that you're a comedy show for before you lose the right to use the veil of serving the public interest. Is a transparent desire to lie with the intent to deceive not a DQ for being a "journalist" now? At what point DO we say, "You do you, Alex, but we're not a part of this anymore?" And if Alex gets that privilege, are you going to fall over yourself to similarly defend the Democratic Socialists of America and antifa actions? I suspect for most people that is a "No."
> Would you rather fight spammers and keep free-speech alive or give it up over to Google and other platforms?
You appear to be mixing search and youtube. If I search for Alex Jones, the second hit is infowars. First is wikipedia.
Just to see for myself, I picked a search that should churn up a guy that they might find irritating and did 10 seconds of anecdotal research.
Search was 'vox day blog'.
Google, Yandex, Startpage return his blog as the first entry (perhaps after an ad).
Goduckgo it was the sixth entry.
Bing, it never showed up. I got bored after the first dozen pages.
What exactly does this prove? Not being a web/seach engine guy I don't know.
What I'd like to find is a search engine for which I could build a great big list of curated sites with zero results from others. I tend to look up the same things a lot and after a year or two of additions it might be a really nice thing to have.
Thus if you have more examples, I would be interested.
They are not two separate things. Google enjoys the status of a platform in all of its products.
The links I provided talk about YouTube and other platforms and demonstrate how they act as a publisher and not as a platform and the submitted article demonstrates how search results are skewed towards a direction.
Can you please point where my argument is flawed?
> You might be worried that, because of deplatforming, the remaining sites and writers and YouTube posters have to “walk the line” more than ideally would be the case. That to me is a genuine concern, but still let’s be comparative. Did you ever try to crack the New York publishing scene in the 1990s, or submit an Op-Ed to the New York Times before the internet was “a thing”? Now that was deplatforming, and most of it was due to the size of the slush pile rather than to evil intentions, though undoubtedly there was bias in both settings.
What do you think was happening before?
Before humans figured out agriculture, people regularly starved. Would you walk up to someone starving to death today, shrug at them, and say "we used to starve all the time"? Your position is inheritly anti-progress.
Hardly any conservative sites make the cut - Fox News is 10th, but the Drudge Report is 23rd and the NY Post is 26th.
Meanwhile, CNN is third, trailing only Google News and Reddit. NYTimes is 4th, WaPo 11th, Bloomberg 17th and USAToday. Meanwhile, 222,000+ sites link to the NYT. Fox News has just 52,000.
Google’s algorithm lets the Internet vote on which news sources it trusts the most. As it turns out, very few right wing sites make the cut.
Perhaps not the biggest surprise, as right now, according to Breitbart, the biggest story in the entire world right now isn't Zuck, isn't Trade Wars with China, it isn't even Julian Assange, it's that Jussie Smollett's 'Empire' just got cancelled.
That said, the obvious counter-point to your point is that conservative sources are ranked lower because they are intentionally deprioritized by platforms like Google and Alexa. I'm not sure that I believe that, but the current state of affairs is not always self justifying.
In fairness the China back/forth is static quo for the Trump era, the fact the Sweden reopening is just nonsense fake politic showboating. Empire being cancelled is really interesting and speaks to something deeper / culturally important. The: you must believe everything that comes out of my mouth because I identify as these groups who have historically been oppressed narrative has changed. People who normally would be afraid to question his story have started to. The change happened after the Saturday night live bit a few weeks ago. His responses put in that context made his side so absurd his supporters couldn't defend him.
Right, but clearly not so much that Fox et al aren't running under 25% of more respected outlets numbers. If it had have changed that much, the vast majority of people wouldn't be flocking towards the latest micro update in a macro story that by and large hadn't changed in weeks over the latest update on a culture wars proxy story.
You are not required to present all of the information on your platform at once in order to be considered a platform. Indeed, it is generally accepted that platforms, by their very nature, are not able to do so.
Censorship can come from anyone and anywhere. Especially when a private company like Google has more power that many governments in the world. Google could even be considered an un-elected government depending on how you look at it.
What they are doing by de-platforming people is censorship.
They offer no clue as to how their algorithm works or why some people get up on the list while others don't.
While they could theoretically show all 1,690,000,000 results, we know for a fact that just the first or second page at tops is what matters. So, in all practicality, the other results do not exist.
If the other results do not exist, then they are a publisher and should be treated as such since they pick the winners and losers.
If there's nothing wrong with what they are doing, what's the problem of calling then a publisher? Why not embrace it and take full responsibility?
 - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Censorship
If I have a blog, and I ban someone from commenting, I don't lose my 230 protections. Even though I've 'de-platformed' someone from my blog. Google is no different than a blog, just scaled up.
He is saying that any hit not on the first two pages of google's search results, doesn't exist, and is therefore being deplatformed?
That's a ludicrous position. Those hits do very much exist, and google will display to you each result in turn hoping you find something to click on. If his argument is taken at face value, the vast majority of hits, on every search term, for every user, is being deplatformed. That's just not the case. You can't really say you're being deplatformed, because you're not on the first page.
When I refer to deplatforming I’m talking about users and opinions being banned from the plaftorms (YouTube, Twitter, FB, etc).
When I’m referring to search engine results what I’m saying is that Google is promoting a few selected sites over others based on a undisclosed criteria. The undisclosed criteria here is what makes a world of difference.
By not making it clear they are picking winners and that should not happen.
Just because a problem is hard to solve it doesn’t mean that an authoritarian solution is acceptable.
It seems like you don't agree. Maybe you could make the case about the reason you don't agree and we can go from there.
Just on a technical basis, no, it won't: https://www.google.com/search?q=testing&start=1090: "Sorry, Google does not serve more than 1000 results for any query. (You asked for results starting from 1090.)"
Arguments based on that are therefore void.
To nitpick: no it's not. Government censorship is worse than other forms because the state is an entrenched, nearly irreplaceable power structure with lots of inertia, but that doesn't mean non-state censorship is perfectly fine.
Any platform that curates content is censoring. Sometimes that's fine (illegal content), and sometimes it's just not acceptable.
"I see you edited our software in violation of the DMCA, the police will arrive shortly"
They are not a public service.
Everyone needs to get from point A to point B and roads are a key way that we accomplish that.
In a similar vein, everyone needs to search for information and search engines are a key way that we accomplish that.
With Google, it's almost like one company owns 90% of the roads. On multiple continents.
It is sort of like a utility company, except way beyond that.
I personally think that platforms with this scope should be built on public, open, decentralized protocols and networks. Something like YaCy might be the right direction.
Then maybe we could have companies built on top of that platform to add value. But the core functioning of the platform would be auditable.
That's already true - consider a site like Reddit and the perceptions of /r/politics compared to /r/the_donald or the insulated bubble you can easily find yourself in on YouTube if you follow the recommended videos rabbit hole. The bubbles can, and already do, exist on the same platform.
2 - Claiming that google influences people to search for "FOX", or "CNN" is as ludicrous as claiming that google is influencing people into searching for "how to kill blacks", or "how to make bombs". My own suspicion is that people decide what they're going to search for long before they come to google. It's certainly not google influencing people to type in certain terms on its famously empty homepage.
I don't believe this is simply an effect of giving the crowds what they want.
- Blocked sources: https://news.google.com/settings/feedback
- Favorite sources: https://news.google.com/my/library
What I have noticed is that the filters don't seem to apply if you click on "Full Coverage" of a topic anymore (via the little icon with the colorful rectangles), perhaps in response to those echo chamber complaints.
Google and the rest are pretty much the same.
Returning to the soft drinks analogy, why don't they sell RC Cola?
They buy cola by the crate and there is a better margin selling a case of the presumably more expensive crate of Coca Cola.
If RC Cola retails at 50c and Coke retails at $1 then they are not going to stock RC Cola. The supermarket are in a different situation, they are selling multi-packs and they have their own brand stuff, the RC Cola and the real Coke product for their customers, Coke having the best shelf.
If the gas station had demand from customers for RC Cola then they could stock it. However, 50c of revenue would be walking out the door with every sale of a cola-style beverage. Even if RC Cola have better margins when buying at trade that 50c difference is a big one.
The supermarket can increase footfall by offering RC Cola at a competitive price, people coming in for it might buy other stuff where the real money is made.
With the gas station a reduced price RC Cola offering is not going to increase footfall. Plus gas only has slim margins to it there is no elasticity there. The beverage and candy options are therefore really important for profit. Hence only certain products can be sold, the business cannot afford to stock anything that gets sub-par revenue or put that tap there for people to obtain limitless quantities of wholesome tap water.
If you think gas stations need to be more "fair" about which pop they sell
Not a good analogy. With social media and the desire to exert control over what's trending, it's more like, in the earlier days of 5 Hour Energy, when sales were growing rapidly, gas stations and convenience stores refused to try it out for reasons beyond sales. In reality, they're fairly enthusiastic about trying such things out. In reality, the space next to the register is fairly market driven.
“Getting it next to the register isn’t hard. Keeping it there? Very hard. Anything that sells, the stores will try. To own that space is really hard.”
Sometimes I see the entire pantheon of legacy media news channels on YouTube presented to me, when it should be obvious that I never click on those links. Funny that.
It’s like when Facebook or Instagram only shows me certain posts, and I react to those posts because they’re all I am presented with. Then, their logic is that I just love posts like that, and it’s all they should show in the future.
This provides data about what the gas station is stocking, but we do not have data about what Google's current users favor. It may well be that the users do prefer RC Cola.
And setting aside user preferences, the gas station doesn't stock what people want to buy. They stock what will make the most profit. The users may want RC Cola, but by refusing to stock it they may be able to force users into buying their higher-profit-margin Coke.
Well seeing that for every product Apple sells or give away, there are competing products in the App Store, there is an existence proof that this isn’t true....
Apple Pay - there are plenty of QR code based pay apps on the store
AirDrop - any one can write a share sheet extension to duplicate the functionality.
Phone app - there has been a voip API that let third party apps integrate with the native phone screen forever. Hopefully you don’t consider third party apps being able to intercept phone calls a “feature”? How many security issues have arisen because of that on Android?
AppleTV - you mean a remote app? Streaming from your phone - the Roku app lets you stream video from your phone and Apple just announced third party AirPlay integration.
SMS App- Google Voice. If you mean allowing third parties to intercept your native SMS phone messages, that has been one of the many security nightmares on Android.
Also “as far as the App Store itself”, the original poster said that there are no products “in the App Store”. Are you expecting Apple to sell an App Store within the App Store?
How are people supposed to know about these products/services if Google is showing what people already like? i.e. incumbents. They are forced to buy ads!
This is just one example why it's so important to show "neutral" results to everyone. The good news is that politicians like Warren understand these issues. Regulation and possibly break-ups are coming.
As shown in Manufacturing Consent governments and powerful organizations can get the effect of censorship by manipulating visibility. A social climate where virality essentially belongs to just one political faction is dangerous. It would be the 1950's equivalent of only Republicans getting to appear on TV and radio.
i.e. What search engines like DuckDuckGo do.
That idea is probably at the core of all modern Search Engines (including DDG).
Thus, all modern Search Engines (including DDG) are almost certainly based upon user activity. That being the users who build web pages and links to them.
That's the problem with Google and I think we're too far down this path for them to fix it. We've been watching this slow walk to where they are for a long time and I think people have just become to used to it to notice how insidious the situation has become.
If Google was simply a provider of information then the answer would be that those are one and the same. But they obviously are not. One conflict that already provides an irreconcilable conflict of interest is the fact that they are primarily an advertising company - and the world's largest one at that. There are countless other issues that could also be brought up to emphasize conflicts of interest, but that's not really necessary. That their primary business is selling advertisements creates too large of a conflict of interest to ever expect "customized" search results to be anything but manipulative.
In fact, if they find out that you've ever endorsed RC Cola anywhere ever, you can't get gas.
Google presenting particular results influences users.
Pretending that Google is merely passively reflecting user preferences rather than actively shaping them makes no sense.
We are where we are, because most users have gotten us there.
> Pretending that Google is merely passively reflecting user preferences rather than actively shaping them makes no sense.
It has content and advertising just like a gas station does.
It's a market. Literally, it's a market.
Except that the NYT and Safeway don’t pretend that their product isn’t the result of curation.
There is nothing ‘organic’ about organic search results.
But I agree that there are comparisons with a Gas station.
A gas station is there for one reason - to sell you what the owners find profitable. What is sold and what is displayed are chosen for that reason only.
Google is exactly like this.
What it is not, is a responsible organizer of the world’s information or a search service, or in any way responsible to the interests of searchers unless they align with the interests of advertisers.
A) Information is not Soda, it's not an arbitrary choice
B) Soda is also a physical distribution business - Coke and Pepsi dominate physical distribution, shelf space etc. - these problems don't really exist in news, or rather, in totally different ways.
So - 1) they are different kinds of 'products' in terms of their civil relation (i.e. we don't care about gossip information), and 2) the businesses are actually different.
With what level of certainty do we actually know this? Sounds like an assumption to me.
There are people who like cable news web sites, and search for them on Google.
Let's say for instance that 2/3 of the people who search for news on Google are people who like cable news web sites. Then, by a ratio of almost 2 to 1, cable news web sites will be favored.
Rephrased: Perhaps people are actively consuming CNN through the Google searches on the web, and people are passively consuming Fox through cable.
Not that it's strong evidence, but consider: "According to Nielsen ratings, the median age of Fox’s audience was 66 in 2016."  
Some people come to Google, and go past the Fox News result, and seem happy with the CNN result, or NYT, or WP, so Google thinks they're awesome.
And if Fox News viewers think Google is biased, and then avoid Google, then Google will become more biased. It's a vicious cycle, or virtuous cycle, depending on how you look at it.
I get where you're coming from, but if you're not a card-carrying progressive then this statement feels egregiously false. The Washington Post was at the forefront of the Covington debacle. NYT pushes editorials about how mixed race dating is bad (from a "woke" perspective), among other crazy, far-left ideology.
What gets me about this whole subject is that everyone I know who watches Fox News knows that they're watching partisan spin, even the elderly ones. It's kind of a theater of overblown, right wing outrage that they're willing participants in. Most people I know who watch CNN think that it's objective, which couldn't be further from the truth.
New flash: people aren't getting their news from TV as much as they used to. CNN's audience being mostly online would be a reflection of that.
... Consider this from yesterday, where one of the foremost experts on the field of transsexualism, a major contributor to the DSM-V was suspended from twitter  for explaining transsexualism.
If "the algorithm" is ready to block anyone for anything that could be offensive to one group but actively allows threats, doxxing, and attacks on another - you aren't talking about RC Cola vs Coke.
It's not at all unreasonable to say that Google and SV as a whole are clearly biased. We don't need more ways to make a bubble, and we certainly don't need Google deciding the narrative themselves. I think the analogy to physical sodas don't really hold up to digital delivery of news. Sodas range has a phsyical limitation, digital news does not, if sodas were a digital resource you would sometimes get to try RC Cola.
Try and consider how fast it could turn around on you. Cool, today you agree that coke and pepsi are better than RC Cola. What happens when RC Cola is politically tied to Google's fate and they push that instead?
I disagree with your assessment about "always". Frequently Google results are very anti-liberal as well.
I can find more examples if you like. YouTube suggests awful right-wing content ALL THE TIME.
The other article from 2017 doesn't give me the fake MLK result, so does that mean Google DID adjust their search results?
Should Google be manually currating results? Sometimes, but I think they've proven they don't draw the line exactly straight.
What would convince you that you were wrong?
Look at the examples given. One is Google doing nothing to "fix a problem" (http://www.joebiden.info) and the other demanding Google fix an issue which they seem to have done - as being anti-left. Google being agnostic and not protecting Joe Biden is not them being Anti-Left.
I will not be bullied into thinking that Google doing nothing is them being anti-left. I disagree with many of the conservatives Google that have been deplatformed, but I recognize how quickly that pendulum could swing.
I actively wanted to read some of the extreme right wing stuff. (I believe strongly that we do everyone a disservice by silencing people. It harms the rest of us by isolated us from anything not "mainstream" and it further pushes the silenced into radicalism and vindicates/bolsters their argument that they are mistreated). I literally could not find it on Google, but just moving over to Duck Duck Go I found what I was looking for right away.
To everyone down-voting the parent, try it yourself. Think about some polarizing political topic and plug it into Google and then do the exact same search in Duck Duck Go (and maybe Bing, I haven't tried that but I will). You'll be shocked at the difference.
I absolutely agree that being "silenced" and feeling "persecuted" only serves to make extreme views more extreme. But I'm also not sure the bias is only directed one way as many of the far-right pundits would have people believe.
I also use DDG and avoid all things google as much as I can but the other day I searched "atlas" on YouTube (looking for the Greek mythological figure) and stumbled across a clip from the movie "Atlas Shrugged." I had read the book in high school and I know it's a favorite among conservatives so I figured it couldn't hurt to watch so I did, without thinking much of it. When I went back to my YouTube homepage later the recommend videos were very different from any content I would ever seek out: Jordan Peterson, Ben Shapiro, the Ayn Rand Institute, and even one called "Why Immigration is Bad for Britain." From watching one movie clip.
I think Google's algorithms, for better or for worse, can very quickly discern what content a user "wants" and filters out the rest. I'm the last person to have anything nice to say about Google but I do genuinely believe it's more a case of algorithms enforcing the unconscious bias/preferences of our brains than anyone at Google maliciously "silencing" certain points of view.
I do wonder if these are different problems tho. One could make a good case that they aren't, but I tend to think of search results as more neutral whereas video recommendations would be highly personalized. If I use the YouTube search box I'd expect similar results to everyone. But my expectations are based on nothing except my personal subjective sense of the way things ought to be.
Which was revoked as soon as a human got a look.
This happens all the time on Twitter. Here's a liberal Twitter user who got suspended for saying "you really wanna die on this hill huh", which the algorithm interpreted as a death threat.
The current AI state-of-the-art is extremely stupid, and once you get past that the first level of human review isn't much better - it's unrelentingly boring minimum wage work. Confirmation bias turns this random capriciousness into conspiracies.
What also happens all the time is that accounts from conservatives get banned, while people like Louis Farrakhan can be openly and virulently anti-Jew. Bruce Carroll gets banned for referring to Chelsea Manning as Bradley Manning. Apparently that's more terrible than comparing an entire race of people to termites as Farrakhan did.
Drinking Coke/Pepsi is probably worse than smoking short/long term.
I would say that's partly true. The other part comes from all the flack that Google receives when they include niche or non-mainstream sources (which admittedly are more sloppy or more biased in their reporting). And it is a valid question whether Breitbart articles should be displayed alongside results from CNN or NYTimes or WaPo for generic news queries.
It just tells me that Google controls what news that you are able to see and that they are not very objective.
edit: of course I am not talking about showing bad results on your prime screen real estate... just choosing the best results from more sources (which is what I thought this article was about).
Should Google start preferring some CS undergrad's uncited poorly-formatted blog instead of stackoverflow as well?
b) It's not an argument to suggest that Google should be carrying some random student news paper. As if Google can't tell the difference between 'The Burlington Vermont Times' and random noise.
And there are individual blogs which have higher quality / better reporting than some regional newspapers. Should those be included as well? Which ones?
Once you start making decisions like these, you are quickly getting into controversial territory. So I can see why Google prefers to abstain and say "it's all users, not our fault!"
I don't think it's 'aggregate users choice' they use, I think it's ultimately 'page rank' reputation at the core of it.
Also, I think if they were using 'user choice popularity' the news would be HuffPo, Buzzfeed, TMZ, Breitbart etc. - we on HN don't read this stuff but it's very, very popular stuff.
Consider that HuffPo for example is more popular that most news orgs on that list, and they do actually have a lot of in-house content ... so why are they not added? Clearly Google has made some kind of editorial choice.
This is not just regular search, it's news, so this becomes more important.
I don't think there is a way around having some kind of editorial opinion, so it should hopefully be transparent, maybe pliable, possibly even regulated.
Second, the criteria for 'reputability' is a great deal of what's at stake here.
Similarly, Google has a ~5" device with about 15-20 slots to fill in.
The actual cost of buying a fridge/extra slot is marginal, the issue is the attention of the consumer.
Now, if I am looking at the google new results, and I see results from bbc.co.uk and "Random Guy's News Site", which one am I going to click? I'd choose bbc.co.uk every time.
So they will be marked as "relevant" and will rise to the top, while "Random Guy's News Site" will be marked irrelevant and fall to the bottom of the list where no one will ever see it.
It's a very good analogy.
Unless someone comes up with a method of somehow listing all 18,000 or whatever entries on the front page, the algorithm has to choose which ones are most popular.
1) "Google shows users what other users like, most of Google's current users favour a small number of major outlets"
This is only partly true, and we have no evidence of it. Google can do whatever they want their results and there are surely other factors. What are they? Why do they exist? etc.. There's room for all sorts of bias in there.
Also, I suggest it's actually not really true either: 'What people want' is BuzzFeed, HuffPo, Breitbart and TMZ. Unfortunately, that's the reality of the world. 'Most people' read that stuff. They want to know what Kim Kardashian thinks about it.
2) "But it shouldn't surprise you that most gas stations mostly stock Coke and Pepsi products."
This is a physical inventory and shelf space problem, google really doesn't have this so much: results can be tailored, represented in different ways, possibly randomized etc..
This situation is a great case for how systematic biases etc. are reinforced.