You too Google?

With just hours to go before the US of A makes a final decision on the Presidential elections, rumors are on that Google’s secretly helping out Obama in his campaign. Could this be true? I agree the President certainly has a few A-listers like Jay-Z to help him in his campaign, but would Google really go soooo far?

How and When did the Story First Surface?

It probably started day before yesterday when The Wall Street Journal ran a story with a cryptic headline –‘On Google, a Political Mystery That’s All Numbers’. Google’s offering personalized search results for Obama, but not for Romney, suggested the story. They even ran a test where users were asked to search for Obama and then subsequently asked to look for ‘Iran’ or ‘gay marriage’. Subsequent search results included links about the President with a label “you recently searched for Obama’.  But this did not happen for Romney.

iran Google Search


Is Google Really Biased Towards Obama?

No! Speaking on the test results, the Journal explains further that it all boils down to numbers. It’s just that more people have searched for Obama followed by searches for related topics such as medicare, gay marriage, etc, than those who’ve searched for Romney and then followed it by these search topics. Now, this ‘may seem biased to the human eye, in terms of a search algorithm, but it is purely numbers’, says the Journal. Bias itself is too strong a word to be used in this context… claiming that Google has ‘prioritized’ search results, is taking it too far!   

There’s another reason why it is unlikely that Google could be supporting Obama. For one, there’s no guarantee that the search results are in favor of Obama. For instance, a test done by Search Engine Land, found this when it looked for ‘medicare’ right after a search for ‘Obama’….

medicare Google Search Private Browsing

But when looking for Romney alone, this article did not appear, indicating that Romney is being favored here.

Would these personalized search results change if I entered keywords that are ‘Romney-specific’ after looking up Romney’s name on Google. That was an experiment that wasn’t conducted. Unfortunately we couldn’t check this because we did not get those personalized messages even though we searched for medicare and other related words right after searching for Obama.

What is Personalized Search History:

Over the last one year, Google has been trying to adopt a more personal (creepy I call it) approach towards search results. Thus, it has been drawing information from Google+ to influence search results. Trial tests are on to include Gmail and Google Drive as well. Even you can sign up for this trail by clicking the link here.

In Conclusion:

Considering the headlines of the original story and the subsequent stories, this test was probably published in purpose to elicit sharp reactions from people who aren’t warming up to the explanation that it’s just an algorithm that’s influencing the personalized search results. In fact CNET(and others) has already deemed it unfair.

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US Presidential Elections, Google News

About Manickarasi Mathavan

Manickarasi Mathavan I’ve always aimed to seal my articles with a KISS- Keeping it Simple, yet Sagacious! My articles make a conscious effort to cut through the technical jargons and elucidate in a manner that is understood by .... more info