It looks like you're using an Ad Blocker.
Please white-list or disable AboveTopSecret.com in your ad-blocking tool.
Some features of ATS will be disabled while you continue to use an ad-blocker.
Increasingly, the quality of Google's search results and business practices are being called into question. A new study co-authored by Benjamin Edelman and Benjamin Lockwood attempted to measure bias in the organic search results of Google and to a lesser extent Yahoo, Bing, AOL, and Ask.
Claims of bias are nothing new to Google. In the European Union, Google is facing increasing antitrust scrutiny from regulators over its search practices -- with the possibility that Google will have to give the EU access to its algorithm. In a previous Edelman report, he accused Google of hard-coding results to favor itself over vertical competitors.
The assistant professor at Harvard Business School (who, it should be noted, is involved on a lawsuit against Google, is a member of the Alliance Against Bait and Click, and also has ties to Microsoft) has also authored several other interesting pieces on Google, Facebook, and more over the years. So does this study of the organic results, based on August 2010 data, finally reveal once and for all without a doubt that Google's results are clearly biased? No. Here are five reasons why.
1. Google: More than Just a Search Engine Google is much more than just a search engine. YouTube, Maps, News, Apps, Chrome, Product Search -- Google offers several products, many of which the other members of the top five search engines simply don't have (e.g., Ask couldn't get preferential treatment for Ask Mail and AOL couldn't favor AOL Maps because no such products exist). Google is ultimately a business. However, Edelman's study says Google should be held to a higher standard because it "claims that its algorithmic results are 'algorithmically-generated', 'objective', and 'never manipulated'." Algorithm: Google says it uses more than 200 signals to order websites and updates these algorithms weekly. Plus there is personalized search based on a user's search history.
Part of the rationale behind Google Instant was that Google wants to anticipate what users want, based on data they've already collected about you from search history and by using Google's products, combined with location information and the huge amounts of data they've collected on everyone. Objective/Never Manipulated: Edelman links to this page, which reads:
"Advertising on Google is always clearly identified as a 'Sponsored Link,' so it does not compromise the integrity of our search results. We never manipulate rankings to put our partners higher in our search results and no one can buy better PageRank. Our users trust our objectivity and no short-term gain could ever justify breaching that trust." OK, key point here: Google is not a partner.
Google is Google. Google isn't claiming that they don't manipulate their rankings to help themselves. Google probably legitimately thinks Google Maps is better for its users than other websites. According to this study, Bing must think so, too. But not Yahoo...