There's No Such Thing As 'Natural' Search Results; Search Results Are Inherently Biased

from the what-a-joke dept

The Senate hearings to tar and feather Google are still ongoing, but the first round grilling of Eric Schmidt didn't present many surprises. Basically, a lot of Senators who don't really understand technology are upset... because Google is big. Senator Franken even admitted that his concern was over the "bigness." Senator Blumenthal, bizarrely, talked about how Google was a wonderful story of American corporate success... before asking how best to dismantle that. For example, he even suggested that Google remove Google Maps results from searches on addresses. That's ridiculous. For folks like myself who like getting the Google Maps result at the top, that would make my life worse. But the most ridiculous comment may have been from Senator Lee, who complained about Google's own results messing up "natural search results." But as Rob Pegoraro points out, this seems to assume that there is such a thing as "natural" search. Everything that Google puts on a page is a choice, and if those choices harm consumers, we'll go elsewhere.

The other annoying thing was everyone kept pointing to "search" as if that's the entire market. Senator Kohl even suggested that when it came to news, the only places to find news are Google or Bing. He flat out claimed that if Bing went out of business, the only way to find news would be Google. Huh?!? As we've noted in the past, we actually get a smaller and smaller percentage of our traffic coming from Google these days. Instead, more and more is coming from social networks and other systems. StumbleUpon, Reddit, Twitter and Facebook have all taken significant referral share from Google -- and reports from other sites suggest the same thing.

Filed Under: al franken, antitrust, herb kohl, mike lee, politics, richard blumenthal, search, senate
Companies: google

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  1. icon
    jilocasin (profile), 21 Sep 2011 @ 1:40pm

    The bigger they are the easier they need to make it to avoid.

    Google is big...
    Yes, you can always use another search engine, but....the bigger they get the harder it is to avoid them.

    Personally the only thing I think that needs to happen, now that Google is so big and successful, is an easier way to avoid them.

    At this point, even if you wanted to avoid Google, you would have a hard time of it.

    So you use Bing instead of Google for search, well every web page that is using Google Ads or Google analytics is still keeping tabs on you.

    So you use Yahoo Mail instead of GMail, Google is still going through all of the emails that either come from other people with GMail or get sent to people with GMail. The bigger they get the more people will be using GMail and the harder it will be to avoid them.

    If you have an Android phone, good luck trying to use a competitor's mapping service. Last I checked they _required_ you to have a GMail account.

    If you have a wireless router, Google wants to force you to 'Opt-Out' of them tracking it.

    Can you see where this is heading? At some point, unless Google is forced to obey such things as the 'Do not track' header (which they have been adamantly opposed to), or move some of their things to an opt-in basis, you won't be able to avoid their tracking of you.

    Phone vendors should be able to offer alternatives to Google Maps on an Android phone without worrying about Google putting the screws to them. GMail should _not_ be a requirement for all Android phone users, or even Android developers.

    Where Google is getting into trouble is the irresistible desire to improperly use their success in one area as a club to force people to do things their way in another.

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