Opinion Dynamics via Search Engines (and Other Algorithmic Gatekeepers)

51 Pages Posted: 23 Oct 2019

See all articles by Fabrizio Germano

Fabrizio Germano

Universitat Pompeu Fabra - Department of Economics and Business

Francesco Sobbrio

University of Rome Tor Vergata - Department of Economics and Finance; CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: August 2019

Abstract

Ranking algorithms are the information gatekeepers of the Internet era. We develop a stylized framework to study the effects of ranking algorithms on opinion dynamics. We consider rankings that depend on popularity and on personalization. We find that popularity driven rankings can enhance asymptotic learning while personalized ones can both inhibit or enhance it, depending on whether individuals have common or private value preferences. We also find that ranking algorithms can contribute towards the diffusion of misinformation (e.g., “fake news”), since lower ex-ante accuracy of content of minority websites can actually increase their overall traffic share.

Keywords: search engines, ranking algorithm, search behavior, opinion dynamics, information aggregation, asymptotic learning, misinformation, polarization, website traffic, fake news

JEL Classification: D830, L860

Suggested Citation

Germano, Fabrizio and Sobbrio, Francesco, Opinion Dynamics via Search Engines (and Other Algorithmic Gatekeepers) (August 2019). CESifo Working Paper Series No. 6541, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3005168 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3005168

Fabrizio Germano

Universitat Pompeu Fabra - Department of Economics and Business ( email )

Ramon Trias Fargas 25-27
Barcelona, 08005
Spain
+34-93-542-2729 (Phone)
+34-93-542-1746 (Fax)

Francesco Sobbrio (Contact Author)

University of Rome Tor Vergata - Department of Economics and Finance ( email )

Via columbia 2
Rome, Rome 00123
Italy

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute) ( email )

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE-81679
Germany

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