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Equality on Search Engines

As mentioned in class previously, PageRank (and the many other secretive algorithms that base off of PageRank), are used to rank pages that can essentially be displayed on a search engine such as Google. When the website or search material is based off of informative or research based material, it works well in providing a good set of informative websites. However, there is often a hazy region where opinion and bias can be involved. There are many sites which logically can be ranked the same, but the differentiating factors must be determined by an ethical or opinionated view that exists within the algorithm itself. One of the articles I found, as listed below, talks about this. So many people use Google on a daily basis and see the results that it has the extremely powerful ability to influence people. Even if such is not done deliberately, it is very easy for a the search engine results to implicitly influence people. If a certain person running for election ends up being at the top of the search engine, as determined by PageRank, research has deemed that they can have an advantage over someone else who is not necessarily viewable.

For this reason, it is important to consider that PageRank and any other search engine ranking algorithms do a great job in getting information to the public by considering other pages and relating their influence in either getting the results of other sites or other sites influencing them. With this, though, it must be noticed that the small differences and changes in public opinion can be either unknowingly or intentionally encoded within an algorithm for whatever reason, and this can be a major ethical downside, as search engines are touted to be equal, with no bias. Even for any of us, some of our preferences could have been changed sometime in the past because of what we were exposed to by a page ranking algorithm when using Google. It may not necessarily be incorrect, or in bad taste, but is a point that must be considered when realizing the true potential of search engine ranking algorithms.

Source: http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2015/08/16/search-engine-bias-could-sway-elections-new-research-suggests.html

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