Last Updated on March 25, 2021 by Shaun Snapp
- Google and other search engines have allowed search results to be dominated by commercial entities.
- The question we answer is whether any search engine deemphasizes these results.
This event is so ridiculous that it is difficult to believe what Google threatened.
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The History and Development of Google’s Search
Google is the world’s best-known search engine. And most people, when they search for something, use Google. However, at this point, that’s not really because Google really has better results than other search engines. And Google now has a major disadvantage: they track your Internet usage, combine it with other things they know about you, and continually show you ads, mostly for things you have already looked upon other web pages that you visit. If you are logged into Gmail when you are searching, Google is recording everything you visit.
Google originally did have better search results than other search engines, which became prevalent.
The Domination of Commerical Content Websites in the Search Results
Google is used to direct users primarily to content websites.
One example of this would be the New York Times. Another example would be the Washington Post. Another example would be a company’s website. For instance, like
Apple.com, or Oracle.com, or McDonald’s.com.
These are websites managed by companies that provide information to consumers about their products and their services. Companies, both through their websites and through paying media entities, carry advertisements and reflect their interests. Companies are the primary promoter of false information on the Internet. This web page is from SAP, which is filled with false information about its products. However, Google gives them a “high authority” and has zero concern about the accuracy of the SAP website’s information.
Why Wikipedia is So Valuable
On many topics, Wikipedia is normally the best source, as they are not commercial. Google has ceded the Internet to dominance by commercial firms who have shallow concern for information accuracy. And governments have allowed this by not regulating Google (and other search engines as the search results with other search engines are similar) and allowing them to profit maximizes at the expense of accuracy.
What Are the Search Engine Options With Lower Commerical Influence?
I decided to check and see if I could find search engines where commercial results were not dominant.
I used the article Kinsta’s 22 Alternatives Search Engines in 2021 to find search engine options. I performed a search that I had just been performed for a research article, “CRM ROI,” as I was freshly familiar with the results.
After checking these search engine alternatives, I did not find even one that restricted commercial results. In fact, nearly all of the search engines returned very similar results to Google.
Furthermore, the plot thickened when I could not find suitable search results for these queries.
Search Engine Depress Commercial Results
Search Engine Reduce Commerical Results
Search Engine Fewer Commerical Results
Search Engine Fewer Business Results
It is almost as if my question was “not a thing.” I found that odd. We allow a private company with no concern for anything but profit maximization to have a monopoly on search engine algorithm control, leading to all manner of decisions based upon the search engine’s information.
While I did not find articles on this, I found articles and comments on the declining quality of Google search results.
I ask this because Google has gone commercial. Before if you typed in something like ‘action figure’ you’d get Wikipedia or an online dictionary, or possibly a directory or two. Now you get stores. For almost anything you type in, you get commercial crap!
So is there another power search engine that works as well as Google that turns up useful results for … us, the people, you and me? – Yahoo Answers
And Google is now being sued by the US DOJ.
Here are some of the Justice Department’s central complaints:
A shady path to dominance: Google made its search engine the default option for users by striking multibillion-dollar deals with mobile carriers, smartphone makers and giant partners like Apple.
Shutting out the competition: Partly as a result of those deals, Google now controls 88 percent of the U.S. search engine market, an unparalleled power the company uses to effectively prevent alternative search engines from competing.
A monopoly on advertising: By monopolizing search, Google has also monopolized the search ad market, which the suit argues is distinct from the broader digital advertising market in which companies like Facebook and Amazon also compete.
Hidden costs: As my colleague David Leonhardt notes, Google’s control over search means it can charge marketers higher fees for ads, which may pose a burden to small businesses and drive up the prices of the goods being advertised.
Declining search quality: Because users have so few alternatives, Google doesn’t have much incentive to optimize its search engine for user satisfaction. “Without us even realizing it, the Internet’s most-used website has been getting worse,” Geoffrey A. Fowler writes in The Washington Post. “On too many queries, Google is more interested in making search lucrative than a better product for us.”
A weakened press: As Matt Stoller wrote in The Times last year, many news organizations have virtually no choice now but to depend on Google and Facebook to reach readers and fund their operations. This centralization of power, Mr. Stoller argues, poses two crises: a financial crisis, because advertising revenue that used to go to publishers is now captured by big tech intermediaries, causing the news industry to collapse; and an editorial one, because media’s dependency on a handful of platforms incentivizes virality and sensationalism over high-quality journalism. – New York Times
This is sad. Google became what it is or was, because of both its technology and its honest experience to users. At this time, search engines like Yahoo were dominant. And they were trying to direct users and create a “portal,” and keep them on the search engine page as long as possible rather than giving them honest results. Google became a high trust brand.
I trusted Google.
However, Google was a financial failure until they came upon the idea of advertising. This was not what the founders originally wanted to do. But with moving towards an advertising model, Google became corrupt. And every year, Google becomes more corrupt. I have been a fan of Google since they showed up on the scene.
However, they have completely betrayed those early adopters’ trust and seem undifferentiated from a sleazoid company like Oracle or Microsoft. And they do not deserve the trust of users or governments anymore.
It is hidden to people who do not cover the Silicon Valley acquisition circuit how many acquisitions both Google and Facebook have performed. And it is jarring when you read a breakdown of this pattern of acquisition behavior.
Enabled by a loose merger policy, there was a roll-up of the internet space. From 2004 to 2014, Google spent at least $23 billion buying 145 companies, including the advertising giant DoubleClick. And since 2004, Facebook has spent a similar amount buying 66 companies, including key acquisitions allowing it to attain dominance in mobile social networking. None of these acquisitions were blocked as anti-competitive.
A result of these policy changes is a radical centralization of power over the flow of information. Tech platforms now control online advertising revenue, which is the primary source of financing for news. But this is not just a problem of the monopolization of an industry — these new monopolists are not simply more powerful media behemoths taking share from smaller publishers.
The collapse of journalism and democracy in the face of the internet is not inevitable. To save democracy and the free press, we must eliminate Google and Facebook’s control over the information commons. – Matt Stoller
The number of different ways that Google is cheating is difficult to keep up with. This shows where Google is diverting search results to its own Price Comparison Service. Each time Google is confronted, all that comes back from Google is lies, as you can read about in this article by Search Neutrality.
Here Google’s increasing corruption is apparent. Cheating they did not do before 2013, they now do. At this point, Google may move their server to India, Qatar, or Mexico as they are matching the corruption of a third-world country.
This is scary because Google has enormous amounts of personal information about a huge percentage of the population. And now their ethics are dive-bombing.
Google’s profits and revenue per employee are mind-boggling. Yet, it is apparently not enough.
The Panda update to Google’s search algorithm clearly changed how it responded to shopping requests and was designed to depress all other price comparison services. This is textbook anti-competitive behavior. They used their search engine to preference their own price comparison service. The other price comparison services cannot compete, as they do not control the search engine.
All the price comparison engines take a hit after the release of Panda.
This slide shows the corresponding gain to Google’s price comparison service — which increased Google’s revenues.
This measures the benefits at the height of Google’s price comparison gain in 2011.
Hard to disagree with this conclusion.
Search Engine Neutrality
While the topic is a bit different, I learned of something called search engine neutrality. This is described as follows.
Search neutrality is related to network neutrality in that they both aim to keep any one organization from limiting or altering a user’s access to services on the Internet. Search neutrality aims to keep the organic search results (results returned because of their relevance to the search terms, as opposed to results sponsored by advertising) of a search engine free from any manipulation, while network neutrality aims to keep those who provide and govern access to the Internet from limiting the availability of resources to access any given content. – Wikipedia
Search neutrality is not exactly what I mean because search neutrality means treating websites the same. I am referring to suppressing commercial results, which is justified based on the low information quality on company websites.
Where Are the Alternatives to Google Type Search Results?
And what makes this worse is I cannot find an alternative to Google which matches the requirement that I would think we should all want. Furthermore, it is not very expensive to have a search engine. It requires servers and an algorithm that then spiders the web. One way to accomplish this quickly and economically is to spider Google’s results, cross-reference commercial entities, and then de-emphasize the search results.
Secondly, in addition to promoting commercial results with a high propensity to contain marketing puffery, Google has demonstrated a clear political agenda.
This supports liberal views over conservative views and establishes liberal views over truly progressive views in the US. It is well known that Google is highly connected to the US Democratic party and supports their policies over those (even non-Republican) that would oppose them. Google was sued for shut down the Adwords account of presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard right after her excellent performance in a debate.
Why did Google do this? Because Tulsi Gabbard was running for the nomination of the Democratic Party but is hated by the Democratic National Committee as she is not sufficiently sold out to all of the DNC’s donors. (both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama detest Tulsi Gabbard.) And the DNC is in contact with Google and tells them what they would like censored. Conservative voices are now referred to as extremist or hateful.
CNN, Google, and Facebook all agree that views that disagree with their views are “extremist” and hateful. This is admitted right in this video. This means censorship is required because CNN, Google, and Facebook believe they are the internationally recognized experts on all topics.
This video shows the coordination between the Democratic Party and Big Tech yet again. They brag about “stopping misinformation.”
Even though Tulsi Gabbard is not conservative, the DNC still smeared her as an “Assad apologist” (she opposed invading Syria) and “transphobic” (she opposes men posing as women competing against women in college athletics).
Unfortunately, as she is female and multiracial, they could not smear her as racist and sexist. As Bernie Sanders is male, he was smeared by the DNC as a sexist and “an old white dude.”
Tulsi Gabbard was unsuccessful in her presidential bid but has probably ended her DNC career as she is not sufficiently compliant and corrupt to bend the knee to the DNC.
Google’s perspective is they have the right to rig any election anywhere. They know best, and they need to decide who gets to be seen and who doesn’t.
Recognize that Google’s primary regulators are the US as they are based in the US. Google could interfere in the elections of other countries with even less risk. Furthermore, Google is now so unethical. Why would they not simply share information they have gathered from other countries with the CIA? The CIA could then use this information to plot against countries? This makes Google a national security risk to not only the US but all other countries. China received a huge amount of flack for blocking Google. And they did it for censorship reasons. However, now that Google’s behavior is in free fall, who can at this point blame them?
- Google would be willing to provide any information necessary to keep the US government from regulating them in the public interest.
- This is a nightmare scenario. An out of control global surveillance machine with no ethics that has no limit on how much money it thinks it deserves from the world economy, thinking it has the divine right to manipulate its users, not provide them with good search results and “get out of the way” as they did back in the late 1990s.
The Decline in the Trust in Media
In the US, the trust in media is currently low since the polls began being taken.
When your major media outlets begin to be compared to North Korea, this is a problem. Normally Google is left out of being blamed for this issue. However, they are fundamental to this problem. They have not only gobbled up enormous funding that could have gone to those that create content and journalism but also rigged results to their preferred political associations. Google and Facebook suppressed the Hunter Biden email scandal, helping to tip an election that was decided by 40,000 votes in favor of Biden.
Many search engines focus on privacy, which is the opposite of Google, which surveils those that use Google search. However, there does not appear to be a search engine that focuses on reducing the commercial orientation of search results. I am at a loss as to why this is not a bigger issue. The political censorship is combined with violation of privacy, putting finding alternatives to Google on the front burner.
Google is increasingly adopting an imperial mindset and is not only stacking the deck in favor of its preferred political outcomes, but it has deeply degraded the sustainability of media entities around the world. This means that while Google is undermining journalism and journalistic independence (for instance, IT media is now entirely dependent upon advertisements and paid placements for funding), it is also elevating the content provided by profit-maximizing businesses. Before the Internet, major conglomerates like today’s SAP or Oracle did not have such large content footprints. No one subscribed to “General Motors Magazine” back in the 1970s. You could pick up sales material at the GM dealership or read about GM cars in Car and Driver Magazine. However, today these corporate websites have high volumes of visitors. And with the advertising money being gobbled up by Google and Facebook, corporations control the media companies in addition to their own website presence. Media companies today rarely receive income from subscribers. Previous to the arrival of the Internet, subscription revenues accounted for roughly 1/2 of a media entity’s total revenues (magazine, newspaper, etc..). Google is pushing the overall system increasingly in favor of large corporations and sees itself as having zero social responsibility.
The Australian government is on record as stating that Google is a threat to its media system.
Google is the dominant search engine in Australia and has been described by the government as a near-essential utility, with little market competition.
The government has argued that because the tech platforms gain customers from people who want to read the news, the tech giants should pay newsrooms a “fair” amount for their journalism.
In addition, it has argued that the financial support is needed for Australia’s embattled news industry because a strong media is vital to democracy. – BBC
However, just as big an issue as these other issues is Google’s search results’ commercial bias.
These issues could all be mitigated by developing alternative search engines to Google.
Curiously, the commercial bias of search results is not added to the list of complaints against Google.