Analyzing The Google News Bias

from the is-bias-bad? dept

The questions about how Google News picks sources and articles has gone on for quite some time. It’s been known for some time that Google favors some sources, perhaps based on the patent that recently came to light (which was applied for quite some time ago). However, last fall, there were accusations that Google News was biased to the right side of the political spectrum which got plenty of people talking in the blog world. Apparently, it convinced one master’s student to do his thesis on this question, and he’s just published an article about his results. It turns out that stories on Google News tend to show more bias than stories on Yahoo News… but that’s almost entirely explained because Google News is much more likely to include some blogs in its News index. Meanwhile, of course, there’s been another argument in the blogworld about Google excluding blogs from the News index — so it seems like Google can’t win here. They include blogs, and they get accused of bias. They keep out blogs, and they get accused of playing favorites with the old media sources. Of course, it brings up the question of the differences between opinion and news. The two are quite different, but often get confused. Perhaps it’s time to revisit Sam Whitmore’s idea for a Zagat’s style rating system for news sources. Though, of course, that will only lead to other complaints. Anything that touches on politics is pretty much going to guarantee that — so perhaps any source that gets very extreme ratings can be put in a separate category for “controversial” sites. Those would probably get all the attention anyway.


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Comments on “Analyzing The Google News Bias”

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19 Comments
anon says:

No Subject Given

they have been accused of including right wing blogs and excluding left wing blogs. I dont see how you can use your “they cant win” phrase to excuse this blatant bias. They are clearly biased to the right by their news and blog actions.

And of course they would be as they have funding ties to the (right wing) government.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: No Subject Given

I can’t see how the Google news can be characterized as having “Blatant bias” and being “Clearly biased to the right”. It might be a matter of perspective if one were fairly extreme to the left in their own bias. Where even a centrist view would seem to be to the right. But even leaving out perspective, I would find it hard to believe that an organization such as Google where 98% of the employees’ campaign contributions went to the DNC or the Democratic party/causes would support a right wing bias. In particular the CEO who donated big $$$. http://www.usatoday.com/printedition/money/20050214/1b_googlegive14.art.htm Not to forget that Google news entries are selected programmatically not by review. http://news.google.com/intl/en_us/about_google_news.html#1

Anonymous Coward says:

No Subject Given

“So what you are saying is that we have a right-wing programmer here?” No, not at all. Although I find it interesting that you chose to focus on only one point made, ignoring the other points, and then extrapolate that and assert a completely hypothetical situation. A fine example of a strawman argument. And one that is highly improbable due to the overwhelming political make up of the employees as seen by their political contributions. How telling it is of your own biases. Did you bother to read the reference on how the offerings are determined? Do you really believe that one single programmer is responsible for the algorithms and coding for the entire face of Google news? Isn’t it more likely that a whole team of programmers and management review it from start to finish? Have you worked with programmers in the Bay Area? I have, and my experience is that while it is not impossible, it is highly unlikely to find right-wing ideologues in the discipline. While the converse of left-wing thinking is almost a prerequisite. All of which make it more probable that any bias would be to the left. Isn’t time you admit that you want to believe so badly through your own biases that there is malice and a right-wing conspiracy that it blinds you to facts and reason?

anon says:

Re: No Subject Given

yeah, that goes a long way to explaining the right wing bias. Thanks for your unbiased insight into programming as a hotbed of left wingers.

Because programmers are generally left wing (according to you), google news cant possibly be biased to the right, even though there is ample proof that the news is indeed biased to the right.

And I love how you managed to squeeze in the conspiracy theory too. How original. But you were remiss in the tinfoil hat department.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: No Subject Given

What right wing bias? I think you would be really surprised at my political beliefs which are far from right-wing. And you’re welcome on my insight. However, I would like to clear up several points. I did not characterize it as a “hotbed”. That is a purposeful mis-characterization that is meant to insert hyperbole into my comment where there is none. Taking another’s comments while in a debate and exaggerating them in order to bring them to ridicule or imply prejudice is a common tactic. It is however cheap and dishonest. If you read and understood what I said, I did so without any judgement of what I have observed. I have spent several decades in the Bay Area, home of Google, in the programming field working at too many companies to recall. It is my observation that majority by far of the people in the field are left of center in their political beliefs. I don’t know how they are in Boston, Bangalore or Moscow since I haven’t worked in those places. Is that too difficult to understand? I did not indicate that Google news CAN’T possibly be biased to the right. I was pointing out how improbable it is. Do you understand the concept of probability? Just how likely (probable) do you think that intentional programming was done that biases the results to the right and was approved by how many layers of review that was needed at Google. You do realize that this kind of stuff isn’t just one lone programmer calling all the shots don’t you? Regarding the conspiracy theory, I was not the originator. Mike himself indicated that he thought, “I think people are attributing much more to malice than is true.” Or in plainer words conspiracy. I did mistake Mike’s reply to the first “anon” post with a reply to Cyke. Meaning that my reply to Cyke included the conspiracy comment in reference to Mike’s comment. That was technically an error in attribution, however it does not immediately invalidate the concept. Since it would most likely require the collusion of a number of people at Google to introduce the bias. And that is exactly what conspiracy is. I didn’t mention any tinfoil hats since that immediately characterizes those that believe in conspiracies as less than sane. I however feel that some people who are otherwise sane and intelligent are too eager to attribute what they perceive as a wrongdoing as the purposeful malice of a group of others. It’s the exciting, easy way to explain things. It is also the intellectually lazy way. Is there an alternate explanation that might account for what is being observed that doesn’t require malicious acts? I hate to see those with whom I might agree with on principles cry wolf when there probably isn’t a wolf. It diminishes the principles. Please read the dissertation. The results show that while Google returns more articles that have bias, the bias shown by those articles falls equally on the left as the right. And lastly, while I have read a significant number of articles that assert a right biased Google, I can’t say that they hold up to scrutiny. Hardly “ample proof”. Like Mike pointed out, too many people confuse news (facts) and opinions.

John says:

Bias

The bias goes farther than political and into business also. An example, if you compare Yahoo news to Google news over a few days time span you’ll find that Google news carries for more anti-Microsoft articles than Yahoo does, a lot of which are opinion based articles with little journalistic integrity. I’ve gotten to the point where I don’t feel like I can trust it or I have to remind myself to take it with a grain of salt and then check other sources for current events news. Sad, but true.

Mergatroid (user link) says:

Google News - An Arm of the Republican Party

Just read tonight’s political headlines, comments from readers from the linked articles, and sources: The Republican Wall Street Journal and the Republican Fox News Corporation. I’m horrified that they would presume to blame the president for: The current illegal wars, the current economic disaster, the oil spill. They’re pissed because he didnt go to Arlington National Cemetary for Memorial Day.

Wahhhhhh. Piss off Fascists. Go put on your pointy white hoods and jerk off together. Americans have had all the news about these subjects censored. I want to see some of the war footage that American audiences have never been allowed to see on TV. I want Al Jazeera on my frickin TV and in the GOOGLE HEADLINES – NOW.

Google – you may want to diversify your sources. Its not looking real good for you to be this blatantly biased. Imagine, me having YOU as my home page.

That will have to stop immediately.

paula donovan says:

bias in Google news

There is absolutely no question of a significant right-wing bias in Google’s news headlines and its selection of what sites to include. Does FOX ring a bell? how about the WSJ editorial page. When I clicked on real time news, every single one of the 20 stories that came up touted Romney and Ryan as strong, tough, up-Obama’s-nose stories. There are extreme right wing sources and they are select for Google News headlines every single day. I don’t see articles from The Nation or from Current TV or MSNBC. Accident? I don’t think so. Disgusting. Google News should change its name to Grover Nordquist News.

andrew ensign says:

Google Hillary Bias

This is an easy one:

Go to your Google News Feed, then notice in Top Stories that “Hillary Rodham Clinton” is always the name that shows, when you click on it you will only really find fluff pieces about her and Ellen and so forth….You have to manually type in Hillary Clinton and search that way to get the real news feed….Hmmmmm, wonder what that is about….am I crazy or do you see the same thing when you log into it? I am interested for someone to try it and tell me your result, thank you.

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