Many users who use search engine sites may assume that they are neutral, but studies conducted on search engine technology argue that search engines are in fact biased because of the kinds of features included in their design (Introna 1). In an article, “Shaping the Web: Why the Politics of Search Engines Matter,” Nissenbaum argued the neutrality saying search engines sites “systematically exclude certain sites, and certain types of sites, in favor of others, giving prominence to some at the expense of others” (1). When a user is looking for information of a topic and is directed to one website rather than another on the same issue, search engine bias is raised. While there are many potential sources of search engine bias, the practice of paid search is a unique form of search engine bias. Paid advertising encourages online consumers to click on web pages listed favorably in the results, not based on the most relevant article/website to their search query. Eszter Hargittai states, “the concern is that search engines that are guided by profit motives may point people away from the most relevant and best quality sites in favor of those that have paid the highest bids for placement on the ...
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...such as Google has created about me. However, one expert doesn’t believe search engine technology is built to be neutral, stating, we should “neither demand nor expect to receive information that is objective” (Blanke). He says that search engine technology was not built to do such a thing and that search engines are not capable to deliver neutral and objective results (34). Although this expert sees it as incapable, Eric Goldman sees it as a “beneficial consequence of search engines optimizing content for their users” (Goldman 196). He also claims that personalized ranking algorithms recue the effects of search engine bias because there will be multiple “top” search results of a particular search instead of a “single winner” (197). Similar to trust, objectivity is a big concern to users, as they don’t like the lack of transparency that search engines express.
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