Many conservatives suspect that Google, along with Facebook and other new media giants, are biased in favor of the left. The suspicion is logical. The class that operates these outlets can be viewed as a younger version of the class that operates the liberal mainstream media. Why expect different from it?
I don’t deal with Facebook, but I use Google for searches. It seems to me that it’s easier to find left-liberal content than conservative content in typical searches.
Now, there’s a study that confirms my impression and links the phenomenon to political bias by Google. The study is by SEO Competitive Analysis company CanIRank.
It finds that top search results are almost 40 percent more likely to contain pages with a “Left” or “Far Left” slant than they are to contain pages from the right. Searchers are 65 percent more likely to encounter liberal search results than conservative search results among the five first returns to their inquiry.
Moreover, 16 percent of political keywords contain no right-leaning pages at all within the first page of results.
Are these findings the result of politically neutral rules for determining which results appear first? The study concludes they are not.
Google highlights two key determinants for ranking content: (1) the number and quality of links pointing to a page and (2) the content (i.e., relevancy and comprehensiveness).
According to the study, pages demonstrating a left or far left political slant made it into the top results with significantly fewer external links compared to pages rated balanced. And pages with a right-leaning slant needed still more links to make it into the top results.
Perhaps Google is judging that links to leftist sites are of a higher quality than links to conservative ones. This, of course, would be a way of letting Google’s bias control the outcome.
As for content, conservative sites were more comprehensive, as measured by number of words, yet less highly ranked. Perhaps Google is judging leftist content to be more relevant than conservative content. Again, this would be a way of rigging the outcome.
The study also considered the secondary factors that Google takes into account in its ranking algorithm. These factors could not explain why left-wing sites are favored in Google searches.
Nor can the study be dismissed based on criticism of how it determined which sites are conservative, which liberal, and so forth. This determination was made by scorers from both sides of the political spectrum. They were in general agreement about where sites reside on the political spectrum.
So there it is. Google appears to be biased in favor of the left. And since about half of persuadable voters get their news about campaigns and the election online largely through search engines like Google, this is no small thing.