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The Effect of Search Engines on Politics

Following recent trends in the global political landscape, specifically with the Russian scandal during the 2016 Presidential Election, there has been a national push for greater transparency amongst the largest corporations. In terms of influence, almost no companies have more than search engines. Companies like Google direct the online traffic of millions of Americans daily, and their algorithms can help determine the information we digest. For example, if a search engine was in support of a certain political candidate, they could alter the results of a search to bring up articles that specifically speak favorably for their chosen candidate, or ones that speak negatively of an opponent. In the past, search engines have come under fire for this practice, and the increasing awareness of informational corruption has drawn support for several neutral search campaigns.

One of these campaigns launched by Google is a searchable database of political adds. This database provides all political adds sold by google in order to maintain political transparency among one of the worlds most powerful corporations. The only issue with this is that the report is flawed. Many times the information on the report is missing or un-updated. This problem has been found amongst both democratic and republican candidates with misinformation being a bi-partisan issue.

In addition to the issue of transparency, there is also an issue of competition among the differing political campaigns. Throughout the campaign, different politicians will track their competitors using these reports to get a gauge on how much they are spending. With this vital information being inaccurate, politicians cannot accurate advertise the same amount which influences their campaigns. Overall, these search engines power and influence can be used to influence things as important as elections and must be mandated in some way.


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October 2019