Loading...
BYH I just found out that there are 3 million more registered voters than there are people living in the US. I wonder...

Don't blame Google for mainstream search results

AP Explains Google Search Results

A cursor moves over Google's search engine page on Tuesday, Aug. 28, 2018, in Portland, Ore. Political leanings don't factor into Google's search algorithm, the company says. The authoritativeness of page links the algorithm spits out and the perception of thousands of human raters do.

Loading…

Saturday, September 1, 2018

President Trump fired off an angry Twitter broadside against Google before the sun rose Tuesday, accusing the search company of skewing its results in favor of “fake news” outlets at the expense of conservative ones. Relying on reporting from the right-of-center PJ Media site, Trump asserted that Google had “rigged” its search results to “shut out” stories about him from conservative and “fair media” outlets.

He went on to broaden his accusation: “Google & others are suppressing voices of Conservatives and hiding information and news that is good. They are controlling what we can & cannot see. This is a very serious situation-will be addressed!”

Not long thereafter, Larry Kudlow, Trump’s top economic adviser, told reporters that “we’re taking a look at it.”

It doesn’t take much of a look to recognize what’s going on here. Famously thin-skinned, Trump doesn’t like the barrage of criticism he’s getting online, much of it delivered in the form of news and opinion pieces from the country’s mainstream media. So in addition to trying to discredit those outlets as “fake news,” he’s now trying to sow distrust in the search engine that leads people to them — and, worse yet, threatening to take action against them.

Yet Trump has company on this issue. It’s become an article of faith in some conservative circles that tech companies are warping their products and services to discriminate against conservatives. Among other pieces of evidence, these critics point to incidents on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter that, they argue, show companies disproportionately downgrading or blocking content from conservatives. ...

For its part, Google insists that its only goal is to deliver relevant search results, and that its engineers “never rank search results to manipulate political sentiment.” The company won’t say exactly how its continually updated search technology does work, however — that’s a closely guarded trade secret.

Still, there’s an easy way to judge whether Google has, in fact, cleverly rigged its search engine to elevate bad news about the president over the hosannas of a grateful nation. Search for Trump news on another site — Microsoft’s Bing, say, or DuckDuckGo — and compare the results with Google’s. There will be differences on the margins, but the thrust will be the same. Most of the results will come from mainstream news outlets with large audiences.

Users have to dig a little deeper to unearth links to smaller or more specialized sites. But will they bother? That’s one of the things that critics of the tech platforms assert: The vast majority of internet users rely on the shortcuts that these platforms provide, and won’t bother to hunt for the stories and tweets — conservative, liberal or otherwise — that don’t get promoted.

Research bears that out, at least for Google, where 95 percent of users don’t look past the first page of links. Don’t blame Google for that. If anything, it’s a sign of a worrisome lack of curiosity among internet users and an apparent disinterest in diverse information sources. 

Admittedly, Google’s search algorithm doesn’t rank sites purely on the basis of popularity and authenticity. European regulators fined the company more than $2.8 billion last year for favoring its own shopping service over competing comparison-shopping sites. But the company doesn’t claim to be neutral — it claims to offer results that are relevant, which tells users that it’s doing some kind of filtering.

Some conservatives are calling on the government to use antitrust law against Google and other tech giants that dominate their markets. But Trump seems to be calling for something different: Using the power of government to change how Google’s technology works. Such a big-government solution, turning Washington into a manipulator of search results, would be worse than the supposed problem it purports to solve. The president should stop Googling himself and pay more attention to the duties of his office.

Los Angeles Times

Loading…

Humans of Greenville

@HumansofGville

Local photographer Joe Pellegrino explores Greenville to create a photographic census of its people.

Editorials

October 17, 2018

Saudi Arabia, so far, has tried bluster and bullying to silence the questions about journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who disappeared in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul two weeks ago. On Sunday, a regime statement threatened to "respond with a larger action" to any sanction stemming from the case; Saudi-…

US Missing Writer

October 16, 2018

This has been a banner season for punishing white-collar crime. Guilty pleas by Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump's former longtime personal lawyer, and criminal convictions and additional guilty pleas in the case of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort have drawn enormous attention.…

Trump Political Fallout

October 15, 2018

Nearly three dozen administration officials have left or been forced out of key posts since President Donald Trump was sworn in last year. Few, if any, will be missed as much as Nikki Haley, who announced her resignation as United Nations ambassador on Tuesday.

For a former South Carolina…

Trump Haley-2

October 14, 2018

It’s the kind of anniversary no one wants to remember. A year ago this past Friday, four inmates at Pasquotank Correctional Institution beat to death four correctional employees in a failed escape attempt.

The brutal murders on Oct. 12, 2017, coming on the heels of the vicious murder of a…

October 13, 2018

It’s sorely tempting to criticize Harnett Central High School Principal Cindy Gordon after she reportedly kicked a student out of a football game for wearing a Donald Trump shirt. But examining this blunder in isolation misses the bigger picture.

The Oct. 5 incident didn’t happen in a…

October 12, 2018

Global progressives are having an anxiety attack over the near-triumph Sunday of Brazil’s conservative presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro.

After years of corruption and recession, apparently millions of Brazilians think an outsider is exactly what the country needs. Maybe they know more…

Braizl Protest-6

October 11, 2018

Mercury is a noxious byproduct of burning coal. It contaminates fish and, in turn, people, leading to brain damage in infants and small children, as well as serious cardiovascular and central nervous system problems in adults. Restrictions on U.S. power plants have substantially reduced their…

ENERGY-POLICY

October 10, 2018

If anything, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has a habit of understatement. The U.N. group issues reports so thoroughly scrubbed that they seem cautious in the moment and downright timid in retrospect. That gives their latest and most dire warning added force.

The new IPCC report…

United Nations Climate-15

October 09, 2018

Trying to protect an open internet state by state, rather than by federal law, is a daunting and unwieldy goal.

Unfortunately, it’s also entirely necessary, given that the Trump administration and Congress are more than happy to let internet providers restrict what we — the American…

Net Neutrality

October 08, 2018

Jim Allison lost his mother, a brother, two uncles and a cousin to cancer, but he says he never set out to find a cure for the disease. Like many great scientists, he was driven by “the selfish desire to be the first person on the planet to know something,” as he explained to Houston…

Nobel Medicine
100 stories in Editorials. Viewing 1 through 10.
«First Page   «Previous Page        
Page 1 of 10
        Next Page»   Last Page»