Trump Says Google Is Rigged, Despite Its Denials. What Do We Know About How It Works

News outlets in general tend to focus on negative news more than positive stories — regardless of who is president. Google's algorithms tend to favor established, frequently cited and what the company says are "high quality" news sources — a preference that doesn't necessarily reflect political bias, but may lead the site to promote stories from CNN or the Washington Post over, say, Infowars.

Trump accused Google of rigging search results against him — here's what really happens when you search Google News for Trump" data-reactid="78">

Read more: Trump accused Google of rigging search results against him — here's what really happens when you search Google News for Trump

Regardless of all these factors that complicate or even contradict PJ Media's conclusions, our no-nuance president took the 96% figure and hit Twitter with it, using it as the foundation of his tweet attack on Google. The figure was proof positive that Google was "hiding" positive stories about him and shutting out conservative outlets, possibly illegally, he charged. It's time to do something about it, he said — leaving exactly what kind of "something" that might be completely undefined.

said its search results aren't politically biased." data-reactid="80">For its part, Google said its search results aren't politically biased.

There are legitimate concerns about Google's power

Here's the thing. As ridiculous and potentially dangerous it is for Trump to make policy based on a single flawed news report he saw on TV — and then likely only because of his own personal grudges — there is a legitimate concern about how Google's search algorithm works.

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Google I/O 2018 sundar pichai

Stephen Lam/ReutersGoogle's search engine is basically a black box. Yes, the company does give some guidance on how it ranks results. And, yes, there are plenty of companies that have made it their business to study the algorithm so they can figure out how to get Google to list their partners' websites and advertisements more prominently." data-reactid="103">Stephen Lam/ReutersGoogle's search engine is basically a black box. Yes, the company does give some guidance on how it ranks results. And, yes, there are plenty of companies that have made it their business to study the algorithm so they can figure out how to get Google to list their partners' websites and advertisements more prominently.

But Google often changes its algorithm without telling anyone. And nobody outside the company has a really detailed understanding of how it works or exactly what it prioritizes and why.

70% and 90%. As such, it in a very real way shapes our experience of the internet. If Google doesn't list a site in its first page or two of search results, it may as well not exist." data-reactid="105">Lots of companies, of course, keep their core business methodology or intellectual property secret (think of Coca-Cola's famously secret recipe). But Google isn't just any company. It dominates web search; depending on how you look at the market, its share is between 70% and 90%. As such, it in a very real way shapes our experience of the internet. If Google doesn't list a site in its first page or two of search results, it may as well not exist.

has become a major force in the news industry. Google passed Facebook last year as the leading source of traffic to news publishers' websites, according to Chartbeat. The search giant now accounts for the majority of the traffic to publishers' websites from mobile devices." data-reactid="106">And the company has become a major force in the news industry. Google passed Facebook last year as the leading source of traffic to news publishers' websites, according to Chartbeat. The search giant now accounts for the majority of the traffic to publishers' websites from mobile devices.

So Google isn't just shaping what we see online, but what we see of the news. If a story isn't promoted on Google, there's a good chance you won't see it or hear about it.

Google has abused its power in the past

That kind of power would be dangerous no matter who held it, regardless of their motivations or political inclinations. But it's especially disturbing that Google in particular has that kind of control.

That's because Google has shown repeatedly that it's not to be trusted, that when it comes to what information gets promoted on its site and services, it is not necessarily a neutral party.

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Margrethe Vestager

ReutersLast year, for example, the European Commission found that Google illegally promoted its shopping search results over rival shopping search engines and fined the company $2.7 billion. In June, the EU fined the company another $5 billion after finding that it used the dominance of its Android operating system to promote its own apps. In much the same way as if it had listed something prominently in its search results, the company made sure that its search app and Chrome browser were among the first apps consumers saw on their on Android phones.

What's more, Google and its parent, Alphabet, have taken overt political stands. They've been public about their support for relatively liberal immigration policies. They support gay rights. Like much of Silicon Valley, they backed last year's tax law.

That's not to say that Google's search results are informed by its political leanings. But we shouldn't just assume that they're not — or simply accept the company's denials that they aren't.

It's long past time to rein in Google

Instead, we should demand and require more. Google ought to be required to be more transparent about how its search algorithm works. We ought to know exactly how it ranks news stories and websites. We as citizens deserve to know in detail the judgments Google is making about what is newsworthy and what sources are trustworthy, about what is news. 

We deserve to know the judgments Google is making about what is news.

It could well be that Google's judgments are unimpeachable, and lack any kind of political bias. But we won't know until we know.

Of course, Google's argument has always been that it needs to keep the mechanics of its search engine under wraps to prevent "bad actors" — from spammers to individuals with malicious agendas — from gaming the search results. 

But that assumes there might not be ways to create a system to vet, or audit, Google's search algorithm by trusted parties without making the engine's blueprint visible to the entire world.

On top of that, regulators ought to be working to promote a more competitive marketplace. No company should have the ability Google has to control what news and information we see. Questions about how its algorithm works wouldn't matter as much if people had legitimate alternatives for internet search.

to start moving to break up the company." data-reactid="142">Unfortunately, its control over search is just one facet of the company's power and dominance over our online lives. Because of that, it's long past time for policymakers to start moving to break up the company.

Donald Trump is almost certainly more worried about how Google may be hurting him than how it's affecting the rest of us. But if his Twitter tirade leads to some real limitations on the search giant's power, he'll have done us all a favor.

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'We're totally absent': The US lawyer who helped start the EU's case against Google that just resulted in a $5 billion fine says more needs to be done" data-reactid="151">

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Source : https://finance.yahoo.com/news/donald-trump-google-wrong-reason-213933458.html

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