Wednesday, May 24, 2006

GOOGLE THE BIAS?

"I promise you, if Google thought they would get more happy eyeballs by linking to conservative blogs in news related searches, they would do it in a heartbeat."

Recently, several conservative sites have repeated a charge that has come up a few times in the past. The allegation is that the internet search engine colossus Google is selective in it's editing and choices of advertising based on political bias. But is it bias or is it business? Newsbusters carried the story:
Something frighteningly ominous has been happening on the Internet lately: Google, without any prior explanation or notice, has been terminating its News relationship with conservative e-zines and web journals.

....As reported by NewsBusters, the most recent occurrence of this unexplained phenomenon was Friday, May 19, when Frank Salvato, proprietor of The New Media Journal, realized that his content that day hadn't been disseminated at Google News as it had been on a daily basis since he reached an agreement with the search engine in September 2005.

Michelle Malkin, Little Green Footballs, Jawa Report, and now Right Wing News have all noted that Google News turned them down as a source that the company would carry. John Hawkins at Right Wing News notes:

Let me add that Right Wing News has been turned down as a Google News source twice now. The last time, after they turned me down, I politely wrote back and asked the reason why RWN didn't pass muster and they politely responded that they were declining to give me a reason.

Does that mean that this is some sort of vendetta against conservatives? I'm not so sure about that. To the best of my knowledge, Google doesn't post their requirements to be included on Google News, but they seem to be very inconsistent.

There are a lot of big conservative and liberal blogs that don't seem to show up -- like Power Line, Hugh Hewitt, Crooks And Liars, & MyDD.

On the other hand, some of the blogs that did make the list include:

Wonkette, TPMCafe, Wizbang, & Q&O.

Now, most of these are not news sites at all, but rather opinion sites that carry some news. Most of these blogs get their information and news from the AP wire and other generally known and used news sources, which makes their information redundant in many cases (something Mark Cuban noted and I blogged on earlier). The choices of what to carry and what not to is a bit arbitrary by this standard, however, since Q&O, while being a good site, does not carry very unique news and PowerLine often does.

For a greater understanding of how this works, we turn to the comments section of RWN:
Google is a very unique company, in that what they specialize in and what they get paid for are two completely seperate things. The specialize in delivering relevant content to search engine users. However, as far as income goes, Google is simply an advertising company, and one of the best ones. They brought in just over $6 Billion last year, and 92% of that came from AdWords revenue.

I'm currently in the process of starting a new business venture (trying to take advantage of this booming economy), and as part of that I've been dealing with Google quite a bit the last few months. Here's what I've figured out: They care about two things and two things only. The first is delivering relevent content when somebody performs a search. The second is generating revenue through AdWords. They will absolutely forego the revenue-generating part if they think it impedes search relevency (in fact, Adwords is designed so that the more relevant your site is, the less you have to pay per-sponsored-click).

What does that have to do with anyting? Only this: based on my experience dealing with Google, if indeed they are rejecting conservative blogs as news sites, it has absolutely nothing to do with political ideology. It has everything to do with their perception of the relevancy of the content of these sites in relation to what the majority of Google users are expecting when they search for "news".

Of course, they could be wrong about that... but they have some pretty damn smart people who are paid well to figure such things out.
-by President Friedman


If I remember correctly, the owners and most most of the employees are liberal democrats, who donated heavily to the Kerry Campaign. Maybe that explains hte aversion to RWN and other conservative blogs.
-by Lumberjack 7393


98%, to be exact.

But that's okay - they may be overwhelmingly liberal, but liberals are fair and understanding.

Were they overwhelmingly conservative, however... oh, the bias!
-by fatmouse


There's term in Google jargon referred to as "happy eyeballs", which simply means people who searched for something and landed on a page with information they wanted to read.

I promise you, if Google thought they would get more happy eyeballs by linking to conservative blogs in news related searches, they would do it in a heartbeat. They don't give a flip about 'fair and balanced', they want to deliver what they think people want to see.

I guarantee if they saw enough regular and widespread complaints about news links to liberal blogs, you'd see them get pulled.
-by President Friedman


"They don't give a flip about 'fair and balanced', they want to deliver what they think people want to see."

Hmm, an anecdote is coming to mind here. Something along the lines of "no one I know voted for Nixon..."
-by Mike_M
Mike is referring to a tale told about the 1972 landslide election of President Nixon in which the late Pauline Kael, elite film reviewer for the New Yorker, could not figure out how it happened, allegedly saying "Nobody I know voted for him!"
I'm not sure when I use google whether its google, my search words or just whats out there. In some cases its clearly not the third - eg Ann Coulter has a website and lots of conservatives talk about her - but it might be the search or the way that the sites get themselves crawled by google; I don't know all the details to how they are prioritized.

Still, sometimes the results are disappointing, you know that 99% of people don't think that Galbraith is the smartest economist, yet when you search "Galbraith" that is what keep popping up, along with a few blogs that say bad stuff about him, with no proof.
-by economicliberty


I haven't used google news for a long time. Do they still take stuff from indymedia there? That was the main reason I started with ask.com. Anything that calls indymedia news is just not worth my time.
-rpearso
I suspect that it is no official company policy to slight conservative sites and favor liberal ones, but it is possible that some who work there might tend toward this, and what is considered interesting, wanted, or worthy as news may be viewed through a worldview that considers conservative posts as wrong or untrustworthy and liberal as normal and ideologically neutral.


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