Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Are Google and Wikipedia Searches Liberal-Biased?

Over the past months, I've found it ever more difficult to dig up conservative material using Google (both its web and news searches.) For example, today, I tried to find reporting on Senator James Inhofe's testimony before the Senate Committee on Public Works and the Environment on the current state of global warming science. Nothing there, other than a bit of polemical Inhofe bashing. I had to go to the Senate's website to find his testimony. (I've copied it into an earlier blog post today.)

I'm wondering if Google has set its search algorithm to censor or downgrade the score of conservative publications. I'm not the only worrier: former Reagan advisor and CNBC host Larry Kudlow has wondered about the same thing.

If Google is making it harder to find conservative thought, that is very troubling. Already, our other major sources of information: the schools, the colleges and the media have a decidedly liberal bias.

Wikipedia too seems to have a liberal bias. (FYI, it's the world's largest encyclopedia and the 9th most visited site on the Net.) That bias is particularly strong on racial issues. If additionally, Google searches are liberal-biased, we'll all be hearing overwhelmingly liberal thought.

And while I'm far from an across-the-board conservative, I do not believe that all wisdom resides left of center, and do believe that society is best served by facilitating open access to the full range of responsibly held ideas.

Are you perceiving a liberal or conservative bias in Google searches or in Wikipedia entries?


Scott Kerr said...

I have never noticed a liberal bias in my google searches. But one thing that came to mind though is that the internet itself tends to be more liberal. Maybe google is biased but more likely liberal biased websites are more popular and thus more linked too, creating a "liberal bias" in google searches, which are ranked by number of links to that page.

Anonymous said...

I have also found that not much comes up if you're looking for anything conservative, both at Google or Yahoo.

The exception is if it makes conservatives look bad. For example, recently I was trying to find news and blogs about Michael Savage, a conservative talk-show host who's made national headlines for remarks he made about autistic kids. Almost everything I found had a liberal slant, and anything conservative I found was in agreement with the liberal blogs.

On the other hand, when I did my own Google blog search for "James Inhofe," I came across this very blog post. Twice. Why would they want to show anything called "Are Google Searches Liberal-Biased?" Unless that's the image they want.

Marty Nemko said...

Scott Kerr makes a good point. At least part of the problem is that most writing today comes from a liberal perspective.

Even something factual like Inhofe's important speech before the Senate yesterday was not even mentioned in the New York Times.

Okie said...

I would encourage you to speak with Democrats and Republicans here in Oklahoma to get the full story on Senator Inhofe.

Anonymous said...

As a fairly long term internet hand, I have to disagree with the argument that the internet is liberal. The people who've been around it the longest, and who continue to do the real work of running it, are (amusingly enough) libertarian, more or less so.

Why amusing? Because for people who've been doing work with what we now call the internet for more than about 15 years, they started working in a big federal workfare program. Less dangerous of a one than the weapons building, but no less of a way to keep a high standard of living for white collar workers.

If you're interested in insanely sympathetic coverage of Inhofe and the many others who are still hoping not to see industrial policy change around carbon emissions, look no farther than the Register in the UK. The Register ("biting the hand that feeds IT") is a droll British take on trends in IT, with a strongly sceptical bent.

On terrorism, I think it's useful; on carbon emissions, I think they're hoping the dissent is more real than it is.

On the question of Google deliberately censoring liberal thought, I'm less clear.

The best argument for this proposition is at


with some actual examples of news sources yanked from google news. I suspect this author didn't look too hard to try to contact leftwing sources whose material has been yanked, though. I would expect that Mumia Abu Jamal supporters and possibly International ANSWER would have some things to say about google censorship of the left.

The author's claiming moveon.org is a left group, so his compass apparently doesn't measure many degrees. The prior two actually are left groups; moveon is a democratic party lobbying group, rather than a left group.

The best argument against 'google is deliberately censoring viewpoint X' would have to be


in which the tinfoil hat community claims that their vital research into 9/11 is being suppressed by Google.

Basically, every time google changes anything in their math, and re-scores sites, the people who were pushed down cry foul.


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