10/26 “Google, Democracy and the Truth about Internet Search” – Bridget Hall

In Google, Democracy and the Truth about Internet Search, author Carole Cadwalladr takes a close look at the impact of Google’s autocomplete suggestions on society. 

Google’s mission is to “organise the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” But the real question is whether they are providing users with useful information or false information. With claims of fake news information being spread across the internet and social media platforms, many have begun to question Google’s autocomplete suggestions and whether they are promoting hate in our society. 

When asked about the “malfunctioning” autocomplete suggestions, Google claims their “search results are a reflection of the content across the web. This means that sometimes unpleasant portrayals of sensitive subject matter online can affect what search results appear for a given query. These results don’t reflect Google’s own opinions or beliefs – as a company, we strongly value a diversity of perspectives, ideas and cultures.” In my opinion this seems to be a very calculated response that does not seem to answer the question at hand. 

In addition, users are completely unaware of the distorted search results they are being delivered. Robert Epstein, a psychologist and researcher, states that “the general public are completely in the dark about very fundamental issues regarding online search and influence. We are talking about the most powerful mind-control machine ever invented in the history of the human race. And people don’t even notice it.” It is important for people to understand that not everything they read on the internet or on social media is true. People tend to think Google is always a reliable source and that because Google delivered them these search results they are credible, but this is not the case. 

One thought on “10/26 “Google, Democracy and the Truth about Internet Search” – Bridget Hall

  1. I find your summary and critique of this article extremely interesting. I am definitely guilty of considering Google an unbiased source of information, but as you point out, its autocomplete function is influenced by trends. I remember this coming up in the Social Dilemma. From a journalistic perspective, it is interesting to think about how platforms have the ability to influence fake news and promote false narratives. I wonder what the moral responsibility of these corporations are.

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