The Issue With Google’s Control of Search
As you know my buddy that I used to work with that I call “The Other Computer Curmudgeon” has been sending me all kinds of information about how Google is trying to take over the world! Now, of course, some people think he is a little crazy, but they think that about me as well, so it works out!
To that end, Politico magazine online had a story in 2015 entitled, “How Google Could Rig the 2016 election.” Now, of course, this is old news, as we are well past 2016, but I think that what it’s talking about could in fact be used to sway future elections as well. The author, Robert Epstein, writes in this article that he had been directing research into Google and its ability to control opinions and beliefs based on its search algorithms. What you search for and what the responses are of great importance in how you proceed to perceive an issue.
Google has the ability, perhaps more than any other company in history to control, or shift, voting preferences of undecided voters. Mr. Epstein indicates that in his view they would have virtually no knowledge that they’re being manipulated by the search results they see.
He then goes on to point out that because many elections are won by very small margins, this would give Google the power to flip upwards of 25% of national elections in counties worldwide. His example is that in the United States half of our presidential elections in the past have been won by margins under 7.6%.
The fact that this could be done without the knowledge of the people doing searches using the Google search engine, to me, is what is most insidious in this scenario. Because our school systems have done a very poor job in teaching people critical thinking for themselves; most people tend to just surf the web, do searches in the search engines, and assume that what they’re finding online IS accurate information. They don’t question the source, or the motivation, of the people that are posting such information on the Internet.
Because of this, there is a real problem that people will be swayed by what they find on the Google search engine, Facebook, Twitter, and even Instagram and Snapchat; that influences them without their even knowing that they have been influenced. There’s something about seeing an article written on a computer screen that tends to make people think it must be true! This is a sad fact, but all you have to do is critically look at a pharmaceutical advertisement on TV and what they are saying, as well as what they are NOT saying, that would give you an understanding, or pretext, about the drug they’re trying to sell you. Because make NO mistake, the reason they’re running that advertisement IS to sell you their latest drug! That’s just one example of the kind of influence that I’m talking about.
This is even more critical, in a venue where people make the assumption that if they look at a search engine the people providing the search engine have no “skin in the game” when it comes to providing a search response. That is, in fact, the way it should be, but unfortunately it is not the way it is! Google does have a political agenda. That’s why as my buddy, “The Other Computer Curmudgeon” says we need to be very careful of Google, and what it represents, in our searches, and how it impacts the direction of our thinking. The key here is to be a critical thinker! Think about what the person is saying, how they’re saying it, what their motivation behind it is in saying it; and how they are trying to influence you through what they’re writing, or presenting to you. If you don’t see opposing views, you could be swayed!