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?