Google knows everything. We hope the planet most popular search engine to answer all sorts of questions and to inquire about what interests us and around us. Google is a reflection of our reality… or that we believe. Because these searches are not infallible, and who is succeeding in shaping this reality tricking Google and, incidentally, to all mankind.
The perfect example what were in The Guardian, where a simple question to the search engine in English, “Did the holocaust happen?” (“Did the Holocaust?”) offers a surprising first result: the 10 reasons why that the Holocaust did not occur. The first result of the search (the one in which everyone just by clicking) You can convert a lie in fact for many people, and vivecersa. What danger.
Google changed our history
The British newspaper had a first approach to the behavior of Google a few days ago, and there already was clear that Google is not a reflection of our reality, but a parallel reality. The search engine tries to anticipate What we need and complete phrases according to what other users have asked, to go besides presenting search results as soon as possible.
These predictive search results are the most disparate: If one starts to write “ones are men” or “women are” gets offensive results, but as one chooses more specific search terms the engine is also able to better refine.
The problem is there is filter to generic questions: Google, the more important the planet search engine, failure as a shotgun in fair, displaying misleading results and links that often there are commercial interests: web sites exclusively mounted to attract click advertising or – and this is the dangerous – those that propagate lies with side effects that can be much deeper than you might think.
That reality shows Google makes up our point of view and perspective on various topics. Maybe that is less dangerous in someone with more extensive training and experience, but things change when who is asking about the Holocaust–to keep this reference example – not very clear what happened or cease to occur.
That first search result English links to Stormfront, a website that analyzes the 10 reasons that the Holocaust never occurred and that denies everything that we know, and we know. Denies that in the cataclysm it cause the death of six million Jews, for example, and makes that suddenly our reality is different and that in addition condition our point of view on that and other topics.
Makers of Stormfront are not exactly Wikipedia. Its web site describes saying: “we are a community of realists and idealists racial. We are the voice of the new and harassed minority white!” The problem is that one does not reach this definition unless you navigate to a forum of discussion It has managed to become the most relevant result for Google on the question about whether the Holocaust existed or not.
The effect is considerably different in Spanish. Although the first two results linking to Wikipedia, is the fifth which speaks of “55 questions about the farce of the Holocaust”. The results are therefore less contentious than the quest in English. In fact it is in this case where fortunately the engine It seems to be much more consistent, showing first the the Wikipedia entry on the Holocaust and then another one that speaks precisely of the “denial of the Holocaust”.
Don’t believe everything you say internet
The problem is that this example is repeated again and again with topics which one would expect to be able to rely on Google results and just meeting with dangerous traps for those who do not have a formed opinion or the enough information about a topic. “If says it Google…”
The problem is that the Google search engine is not perfect. Or much less. Danny Sullivan, SearchEngineLand responsible, warns that in these cases is where it is clear that “there is something terribly wrong with Google’s algorithm”.
This ambition of Google for quickly answering all of our questions is commendable, but that does not mean that features such as Direct Answers is working properly, something that another editor on your computer already analyzed in this blog more than one year ago. Google will correct those incorrect, controversial or strange results on the fly, but that does not prevent that danger is there.
In this dangerous example Google becomes directly responsible for spreading racist and anti-Semitic propaganda, and this platform, as other services that should theoretically offer neutral information, just positioning itself and what is worse, to position ourselves.
Not only threat comes only from Google, but any site and web service that just serving for the same purpose. Those who have managed to mold Google to your liking with SEO techniques also they try to do the same with social networks like Twitter or Facebook also shaping our reality.
We have seen recently with the ‘fake news’ scandal, the false news which according to experts they have finished as one of the keys to the victory of Trump in the election campaign for the Presidency of the United States. Joshua Benton, Nieman Lab, harshly criticizing Facebook for this informative role that has taken and on which should take a more responsible attitude:
Facebook has become a cesspool of disinformation. Part of it is motivated by ideology, but much is motivated by the economic incentive that Facebook has created: false things, when they connect with preconceived notions or the sense of the identity of a user, spreading like a wild fire (and are much cheaper to make than the actual news).
Here Facebook has a questionable behavior. Mark Zuckerberg said this summer that his company “is a technology company, not a media company”. And yet there have initiatives as Instant Articles which reinforce the role of Facebook as one of the most widespread ways that people have to find out what is happening. Or rather, what Facebook tells them that it is happening. If you are not a media company, are why so much effort in becoming one?
No matter it is a comic book character who say it: great power entails great responsibility, and Google (and others) should deal with that responsibility.
Both Google and Facebook have recognized the problem and just one month they announced their intention to fight against the sites of false news with various measures, especially addressed to the flotation of those business lines ago: will not allow that those web sites with false news they can take advantage of its advertising systems.
It is a good first step, but we need much more than that. “Spiderman said it:”great power brings great responsibility”. If you are Google and are able to shape the perspective, opinion and information about 7,000 million people around the world, perhaps you should be much more careful results that samples in your searches to be more neutral. So at least were results that could be effectively considered as “responsible”. And Google’s algorithm is not.