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[flagged] Google rewards reputable reporting, not left-wing politics (economist.com)
50 points by nabla9 41 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 52 comments

My own eyes disagree. I read a lot of news. I read left wing news like the guardian, I read news that claims to be neutral but isn't like the NYT or BBC, I read right wing news like the Telegraph and Breitbart. I can't honestly say any are more reputable than the others - all of them tend to publish things that I fact check personally and find to be false.

But oddly enough, Google's mobile recommendations for me are utterly dominated by the Guardian. They push Guardian stories on me multiple times per day. Know which site never appears? Breitbart. It's clearly blacklisted.

I don't find them to vary in quality or "hateyness", at least for the British editions. The Guardian hates white men, Breitbart pushes a lot of stories about illegal immigration and variants (e.g. asylum seekers lying about their age and origin). They both have their pet hates and slanted views.

But Google only thinks I should be reading the article that pushes globalism, the EU, unlimited migration, Clinton and social justice politics.

Unbiased, hah. To believe that you'd have to be blind.

I agree.

For my uses, I read 'RealClearPolitics' daily. It contains outrageous headlines from left and right-- the reader is left to sort out which to read, and what to believe.

Did we get to the point we are flagging articles from the Economist?

Yes, we got to the point that we question the orthodoxy.

Wouldn't this also be the result you'd expect if the fact checking orgs in question are also biased towards the left? All this really shows is that IF fact checking orgs are unbiased, Google is unbiased.

And I'm sure there are a lot of people on the right who would claim that fact checkers are very much not unbiased. (Not in the "blatant falsehood" sense of things, but in the "this is iffy but we'll give benefit of the doubt to people on the left but not the right" sense) An example of this would be the recent "did Trump call Meghan Markle nasty" series - if you give Trump the benefit of the doubt then it's easy to argue that he called Markle's comments nasty, but you're not going to see that on politifact [0].

Everything is relative, nothing is absolute. (And I really wish that fact checking sites were more charitable towards everyone)

0: https://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/article/2019/jun/02...

I think that’s being overly charitable given what he’s said in the past and that he has a penchant for sledgehammer as hominem attacks and ridicule against people who criticize him as opposed to being precise in his counterpunches.

Taken in context, the sheer volume of his falsehoods weighs against his credibility in terms of giving him the benefit of the doubt.

Perhaps, but I'd still like politifact or snopes or whomever to fact check everyone without regard to their past, even if that includes people like David Duke or Richard Spencer. The mere appearance of bias makes it easier for them to point at the rest of the fact-checking org and say "now that you know that the fact checkers lie, let me tell you what really happened in the 'Holocaust'", and that's not something most people want to enable.

And since when are 'facts' dependent on the person who said them? Perhaps if they do depend on such, those 'facts' shouldn't be included in the purview of a fact-checking org.

But your own article talks about facts. Speculating about what he actually meant as opposed to what he actually said is outside the realm of facts.

The potential, unintended bias of algorithms need constant oversight such as this. We are obviously going to use them more and more, and for more important decisions.

Google loves to reward bullshit platforms like Express and The Daily Mail. It is an absolute disgrace that those two tabloids exist as promoted search results.

Though a recent change has almost halved the Daily Mail's search traffic, which is good news.



I am referring to things that have been accepted as truth in courts of law, not conspiracy theories

The Economist itself has a left wing bias.

The Economist's editorial stance is classical and economic liberalism.


>What, besides free trade and free markets, does The Economist believe in? "It is to the Radicals that The Economist still likes to think of itself as belonging. The extreme centre is the paper's historical position." That is as true today as when Crowther said it in 1955. The Economist considers itself the enemy of privilege, pomposity and predictability. It has backed conservatives such as Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. It has supported the Americans in Vietnam. But it has also endorsed Harold Wilson and Bill Clinton, and espoused a variety of liberal causes: opposing capital punishment from its earliest days, while favouring penal reform and decolonisation, as well as—more recently—gun control and gay marriage.

Funny, a lot of left wingers would say Economist has a neo-liberal (right wing) bias. It seems the Overton window has shifted the right so far to the extreme that someone like Milton Friedman would probably be considered left wing.

Perhaps they have different bias, depending on the subject? (I don't know, I haven't opened one since leaving school)

I think they'd argue that they have a consistently liberal "bias" in all subjects, it's just they don't map cleanly onto modern left-right politics. For example they favor deregulation and privatization which are traditional "right wing" stances, while also favoring gay marriage and drug legalization which is an issues that has recently been more championed by the left. The Economist would argue that their stance in both issues is "liberal" thus there being no contradiction.

Thank you.

From the two comments above, I guessed it was something like this

yes, this is evident from claims that hillary clinton is a leftist when she is closer to maggie thatcher

Or that Bernie Sanders is a socialist...

Doubtful. It's just that the left-right-axis isn't that helpful these days. You can be socially progressive but financially conservative.

Very true. Left no longer means liberal.

Outside of the US, "liberal" politicians and political parties almost always belong to the center right part of the countries political spectrum.

They used to. Since Zanny Minton-Beddoes took over it's basically the British version of the NYT but in magazine form.

citation needed

Those two categories aren’t mutually exclusive. “Reputable reporting” outlets are usually made up of a large majority of reporters with left-wing biases because the majority of journalists have left-wing biases.

The NYTimes obviously has a left-wing bias but they are still considered reputable.

As Stephen Colbert observed, reality has a well-known liberal bias.

Ehhh... Google Finance's news section has become a total crap fest, lately featuring user generated sales pitches from SeekingAlpha and some shady looking crypto currency sites. Seems less political them desperate (not that most of the big financial sites have paywalls), but it sure doesn't seem to prioritize reputable reporting.

To decide for yourself just watch the Google leadership meeting which happened after the election, where some of them even started sulking about the results. "Google after the election" renders no results on Youtube unsurprisingly, even though it was a fairly popular video.

> "Google after the election" renders no results on Youtube unsurprisingly

If you search for "google leaked tgif" on YouTube or Google you will have plenty of articles and videos about that ;-) "Google after the election" is just not specific enough and can match a lot of different subjects.

The question is whether personal feelings were translated into algorithmic bias. The simple fact that that some employees were upset by a result doesn't necessarily mean they took some underhand action.

Don’t we talk here all the time about how algorithms can be biased (even racist) due to programmers being biased in ways they may not even be aware of?

Then we must consider the possibility of bias in this case too.

People talk about how your data’s perspective is biased, and how algorithms can lead to cyclic effects. Or in what manner does someone exercise racial bias in their data model?

Surely the same can happen for politics? Especially when sources of data are preemptively blacklisted?

Agreed, it's a possibility. But pictures of upset people aren't evidence that it happened.

>The question is whether personal feelings were translated into algorithmic bias.

Activists certainly claim that personal bias will influence algorithmic bias when it comes to gender and race. I take their point. Why should political bias be exempt from that, especially in light of the highly emotional and polarizing political climate.

"We lost" doesn't sound like some employees, sounds like org-wide political conformity.

I actually think the various independent creators on Youtube played a huge part in helping Trump win. The question is whether the de-platforming has anything to do with that. The algorithm itself just lets you binge on more of what you're looking for, and a large group of those that binge Youtube the most are drawn to right-wing views.

You are assuming - wrongly - that it is even possible for that not to happen. Companies like Google (and Amazon, and FB, and any company that has any kind of search), need to constantly watch and change their search results to avoid a lot of things popping up on them, avoid them getting gamed. Because a LOT of people on the internet are looking to game their results for commercial advantage. And a lot of governments are looking for certain things to pop up in those algorithms, it's not relevant so let's not go into what exactly.

So search results must be evaluated and changed - by people with personal feelings - and an internal process gets started to change the search results - by people with personal feelings, to correct things.

So there is no need whatsoever for there to be anything underhanded.

I hate how people reason about this. Just because there is no conspiracy things are assumed to be working well and non-politically, perfectly and neutrally enforcing the rules. Well, good luck with that.

"Google after the election" renders no results on Youtube unsurprisingly

I just tried and literally 9 of the top 10 videos are either the video you are referencing or videos talking about that video.

If this was a way to trick people to look up this video on Youtube, then well played.

Similarly, "sesame street geometry covers of popular songs" doesn't surface Eight Awesome Angles of YouTube, which shows that it, too, is being censored- why don't the media elites want you to know about Jack Black?

And "black man becoming president ceremony" doesn't give any news stories about Obama's election. Ah....the game is afoot.

Or, you know, YouTube search isn't nearly as "fuzzy" as Google Search proper. "Google after the election" and even "the Google leadership meeting which happened after the election" both show the video- even with a nice little embedded thumbnail, on mobile.

Just Googled that and the top results where news articles about it with direct links to the video. It was posted by Breitbart which doesn't use YouTube.

None the less, if you search directly on YouTube your suggested terms returns results for the more recent videos about the Indian election but if you search "Google after Trump election" or "Google after US election" the top results are videos discussing the subject you claim is being censored.

If anything you've discovered that YouTube's search algorithm prioritizes recent events over a user's location where as Google seems to take into account the locale the user is searching from to a greater degree over recency.

I'm sure this little trick pulls the wool over a lot of people's eyes who want to believe that there is a YouTube conspiracy against their political ideology.

A quick search for "google election reaction trump" yielded a "Leaked video shows Google's top brass 'upset' over Trump 2016 win" video by RT on the first page.

If there is a clandestine operation to remove those videos, it's not going very well.

And? The fact that I dislike a politician doesn’t mean I write code to attack him.

For example, if 97% of the worlds leading authorities on climate science have consensus, wouldn’t you agree it is better to rank such consensus higher? The right wing perceives this as an attack because they think their view on climate science deserves equal ranking.

But that’s so, how far do we take it? Is flat earther articles deserving of equal ranking?

Victim mentality breeds conspiracies around search tampering. The more fringe the beliefs, the more victimizAtion is roled out.

>For example, if 97% of the worlds leading authorities on climate science have consensus

Let me give you a tip. The people who don’t trust climate science aren’t going to give a shit if climate scientists agree on something. It’s like saying “97% of numerologists believe in numerology”.

That’s an appeal to authority. Even ignoring the fallacy, it has even less power when it’s that very authority that’s being distrusted.

Flat earthers don’t agree with NASA or ESA or SpaceX either. It’s not an appeal to authority when people are replicating experiments on a wide scale.

Anyone can measure Carbonic Acid concentrations in water to see ocean acidification for example.

What we have is people in denial of reality for ideological reasons, because they don’t like the unpleasant fact that it represents a market failure that may require collective action to fix.

When you refuse to accept reality because of ideology, you are essentially acting on faith, not reason.

No, the equivalent to your example would be "97% of climate scientists believe that climate exists"

It's also not an appeal to authority fallacy to say that the only people who bothered to check something have a certain opinion.

How do you know what's in the box? Well I looked in it and you still haven't.

> 97% of climate scientists believe that climate exists

Perhaps you meant “climate change”?

No. I'm specifically saying that "numerologists believe in numerology" is equivalent to "climate scientists believe climate exists"

I think there’s a fair number of numerologists who believe that numerology doesn’t work.

I'm pretty sure there's a wide range of reporting that different people call 'reputable,' so who is the authority on reputable? Is it the centrist?

Google rewards whichever ad purchaser pays them.

How is doing no research besides what you can find on a tweet, and heavily biasing an article towards one way considered 'reputable reporting'?

I just can't believe that all right-leaning articles are false and all left-leaning articles are reputable.

Just as well no one is saying that all right-leaning articles are false or that all left-leaning articles are reputable, then.

Your first paragraph sounds as if it's intended as a callout of some specific bit of sloppy reporting, but you haven't said what. Would you care to?

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