The Politics of Search Engines

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In the past few years, people have started to wonder about the ideological leanings of search engine giants like Google and Yahoo!. It seems that some individuals on both sides of the left-right political spectrum believe the results of searches on these sites are favored toward the other team, rather than ranked solely on the basis of relevance and popularity. (These sites operate on algorithms that supposedly organize them in precisely those ways.)

 

If someone were to research the term “gun control,” for example, they might take an overwhelming confluence of Web sites devoted to liberal arguments for or conservative arguments against (not that the divide always divides so cleanly and conveniently) as “evidence” of political bias for one or the other. The idea that an opposing argument might simply be much more popular is anathema to either side, and instead of putting together a convincing case for their ideas and posting it online, they attack the search engines.

 

Fortunately, there’s a new site that caters to those who don’t like ambiguity in their Web searches. Kosmix.com offers searches tailored to both conservative and liberal viewpoints, as well as libertarians, outsiders who don’t really fall completely into either camp. Kosmix searches on “gun control” yield results from unquestionably politically slanted sources like lewrockwell.com and reason.com for the libertarians, the National Review and Washington Times sites for conservatives, and soros.org and motherjones.com for liberals.

 

Of course, this kind of search is really only useful when searching for politically loaded terms and phrases. If you’re looking for Xbox 360 cheats, you’re better off sticking with Google.

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