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
    Chosen Reject (profile), 21 Sep 2011 @ 2:30pm

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

    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.
    Also, if you prefer advertisements from Google, and you go to some website that doesn't use Google, you'll be tracked by a different advertiser. If you like Google+, and you go to a website that has the facebook like button on it, you'll get tracked by facebook. If you like Reddit, but you go to a website that has a "Digg This" button, you'll get tracked by Digg.
    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.
    It's not required to have gmail account for android. It sure makes the experience nicer, but it's not required. To get apps off the market it is (AFAIK), but that's like complaining you need an Amazon account to buy stuff from Amazon. Speaking of which, if you don't have a gmail account you could still get apps from Amazon's Market.
    If you have a wireless router, Google wants to force you to 'Opt-Out' of them tracking it.
    Here's a quick hint for you, if you have a wireless router, the fact that Google gives you an option not to be tracked by it should be considered a gift to you. Your wireless router is probably screaming its existence at 2.4 GHz to everyone. Anybody within 50-100 meters of your wireless router can track you, and if you don't have encryption turned on, then not only can anyone see your router, they can also see what you are doing. So again, Google telling you that they'll remove that information from their one time drive by is a gift to you because of their size. Your neighbors won't give you that luxury.

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