Currently, we all are happily living in the society of internet era and we are sure that even you will be the reader of some very wonderful blogs, which will be among the first to collect the information of find information about candidates who are participating in the elections.
Most of the times while searching information about candidates we think that search engines are providing unbiased information, but what if they aren’t?
The main question is that “Order of search results can skew the perceptions about possible candidates?” Well recently, one research shows the technique of SEME (Search Engine Manipulation Effect) and its possible impact on the election results. All we can say that we are happy that “Don’t be Evil” is the motto of Google. We all know that Internet Search Rankings are indirectly affecting the choice of consumers as they have significant impact on product reviews and qualities and it’s just because most of the users prefer to select higher ranked results rather than lower ranked results. Now the main question comes in existence that Internet Search Rankings are able to alter the preferences of undecided voters in any democratic election or not?
How Search Engines Influence the Views and Decision of Voters?
Robert Epstein, Psychologist and Researcher published research paper which shows that how search engine rankings have potential to influence the views and decision of voters without them noticing the impact. He termed this capacity as; “SEME” (Search Engine Manipulation Effect).
He reported the result of 5 relevant randomized controlled experiments, which were double-blinded and able to analyze the 4,556 undecided voters (2,000 undecided voters were from India) which were representing different demographic characteristics in United States of America and India. Epstein fined that in India it’s easy to alter the decision of voter and it’s easy to push one candidate by 12 per cent which was enough to change the election outcome. However; there were no claims that Google’s search rankings were fact bias. The result of all five experiments demonstrates that;
- Voting preferences of neutral voters can shift by 20 per cent because of biased search rankings.
- There are chances that shift can be much higher or lower on the basis of different demographic groups.
- Its possible to mask the search ranking bias, so that people show no awareness or their objection because of manipulation.
- There are many elections in India and USA which were won by small margins and our results shows that search engine companies has power to influence the results.
- Impact of these manipulations will be much more if countries are dominated by a single search engine company as in India more than 80 per cent people are suing Google and in USA more than 50 per cent people are using Google.