Shaping the Web: Why the Politics of Search Engines Matters
Information Society, Vol. 16, No. 3
Posted: 3 May 2000 Last revised: 12 Oct 2015
Date Written: July 29, 2006
The design of search engines raises not merely technical questions but also political ones. Our study reveals that mechanisms guiding the most prominent search engines systematically favor (in some cases by design and in others accidentally) certain sites, and certain types of sites over others, thus giving prominence to some at the expense of others. Such biases, we argue, which would lead to a narrowing of the Web's functioning in society, run counter to the basic architecture of the Web as well as to the values and ideals that have fuelled widespread support for its growth and development. In considering ways to address this politics of search engines, we raise doubts whether, in particular, the market mechanism could serve as an suitable corrective.
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