Study: Google bias in search results; 40% lean left or liberal
In order to assess how fairly search engine results portray political candidates and controversial issues, we collected over 1,200 URLs ranking highly in Google.com for politically-charged keywords such as “gun control”, “abortion”, “TPP”, and “Black Lives Matter”. Each URL was then assessed for political slant by politically active individuals from both the left and right. Finally, we used CanIRank’s SEO software to analyze how each URL compared in dozens of different ranking factors to determine whether Google’s algorithm treated websites similarly regardless of their political slant.
Among our key findings were that top search results were almost 40% more likely to contain pages with a “Left” or “Far Left” slant than they were pages from the right. Moreover, 16% of political keywords contained no right-leaning pages at all within the first page of results.
Our analysis of the algorithmic metrics underpinning those rankings suggests that factors within the Google algorithm itself may make it easier for sites with a left-leaning or centrist viewpoint to rank higher in Google search results compared to sites with a politically conservative viewpoint.
In our sample set of over 2,000 search results, we found that searchers are 39% more likely to be presented information with a left-leaning bias than they are information from the right.
But for some keywords, the search results are even more egregious. Does it make sense, for example, that someone researching “Republican platform” should be presented only the official text of the platform and seven left-leaning results highly critical of that platform, with zero results supporting it?
For other controversial keywords like “minimum wage”, “abortion,” “NAFTA”, “Iraq war”, “campaign finance reform”, “global warming”, “marijuana legalization”, and “tpp”, no right-leaning websites are to be found among the top results.
Search results for keywords like “Hillary Clinton seizures” and “Hillary Clinton sick”, on the other hand, were dominated by right-leaning websites and YouTube footage.
The proportion of results with a left-leaning bias increased for top ranking results, which typically receive the majority of clicks. For example, we found that search results denoted as demonstrating a left or far left slant received 40% more exposure in the top 3 ranking spots than search results considered to have a right or far right political slant.
Lots of really good comments, and the author hangs around to respond.