From Google. They've stated time and time again that it's a magic algorithm and they don't hand-pick winners and losers. And it's a good thing, too, otherwise you're just inviting corruption. Top spots are literally worth millions, and if there's an small army of people that decide who ranks where, they are an obvious target for bribes.
This doesn't look that hand picked, though, more like somebody didn't check what would happen if they rolled out some algo change and targeted way too broad.
in this case, some better sites resemble spam enough that they were also hit. a basic false positive, collateral damage.
> in this case, some better sites resemble spam enough that they were also hit. a basic false positive, collateral damage.
I believe that as well, though not necessarily because of "spam", but because of the topic. I was just trying to explain how people might think that Google doesn't manually curate their results.
They absolutely know, that if you search Disney, and Disney isnt the first result, they wrote it incorrectly. They also know their product has less value if it returns spam, which is why they fight SEO artists.
They do try to distance themselves from "choosing" the top result for "best construction store" or "best news site" by shouting the world algorithm, to distract the conversation. That doesnt mean they dont carefully craft the algorithm to return a relevant top result.
I found https://medium.com/@mikewacker/googles-manual-interventions-... an interesting read on that topic. It's not just a crafted algorithm, but there are different algorithms and employees choose different algorithms for some queries if they/journalists dislike what the original algorithm considered most relevant.
I'd fully expect to see these interventions fed back into the algorithm so Google can better predict "this search term is likely to be targeted by partisan or otherwise suspiciously motivated actors".