This article is slightly liberally biased.
It’s interesting that as time goes by the list of sources of information that “can’t be trusted” because of “liberal bias” keeps getting bigger and bigger.
At first, it was just certain newspapers, certain news channels, then just “the media, the mainstream media can’t be trusted, liberal bias.” Then it was Snopes. Then came PolitiFact. Naturally, that was started by a liberally slanted newspaper, so of course, you can’t trust that.
Then they came for Google — and there was no one left to speak for Google.
Let’s be clear. There is no bias in Google’s search results. If you’re listening to people telling you that there is, you should be thinking about why they are telling you that the best, most available, freest research tool ever made, the tool that makes it easiest to check the truth of anything anyone says to you is biased. That you shouldn’t trust it. What does that tool tell you about the rest of what they say when you search through it?
If you search Google and every time you do a search, you feel like the results must be biased, you need to look somewhere else. Not another search engine.
The bias you see when you look at your Google search results is your own.
Your point of view has been shoved so far to one side that normal everyday average, the status quo looks outrageous to you, you can’t find anything in it to confirm your bias, so it must, you conclude, be manipulated.
The thing is, it’s not. You should really think about that.
Let’s talk about how search engines in general and Google specifically work.
I’ve been in Internet Marketing for more than 15 years. I currently serve as the VP of Digital Strategy for a boutique Internet marketing agency serving mostly local small to medium-sized businesses. It is my job to know how Google works because it is my job to help my clients be more visible in search results that matter to them.
Search engines in general and Google specifically crawl the web constantly indexing any content they find. When you do a search, Google searches through all the content it has listed and looks for:
- The most relevant piece of content to the search
- From the most authoritative source on the subject
- Which has proven to be a trustworthy source of information
- That is likely to deliver the user a positive experience if they click through.
Google cares about one thing, and it isn’t politics. It’s being so good at delivering the absolute best result to your search that you never feel like you have to use another source.
Injecting bias is so counter to that ideal, anyone who suggested it would never work in Silicon Valley again.
One of the problems sites like, for example, InfoWars runs into is the trustworthiness part of the algorithm. Certain types of users do searches related to, for example, Chemtrails. That certain type of user listens to InfoWars religiously. When that user does a search for Chemtrails online, the results seem skewed to him. He has trouble finding content that confirms his bias. He doesn’t see content written by Alex Jones, so Google must be manipulating the results, right?
It is so easy not to run afoul of the trustworthiness part of Google’s algorithm it’s not even funny. It’s not human, for Christ’s sake, it’s a math equation, a “process or set of rules to be followed in calculations or other problem-solving operations, especially by a computer.” Definition of ALGORITHM. All you need to do to keep from running afoul of that part of the algorithm is to be consistent, not conflict with every trustworthy source listed and not show up at the bottom of every trusted source list on the internet. (Guess what? Yup. Every single one of those lists is indexed as well.)
At the end of the day, most people trust their eyes. When you dig through a source like Google for information on a particular topic, you can do one of two things.
- Take the aggregate what you find at face value or
- Keep digging and digging until you find something, anything that agrees with your preconceived notions. (I promise, if you keep digging, you’ll find something.)
See the problem with the second path?