March 30, 2006
Search Engine Bias Article
By Eric Goldman
Search engines ranking algorithms create winners and losers, and some people don't like this system. Obviously the losers don't like it (see the KinderStart v. Google lawsuit as an example). More importantly, commentators with normative views about what constitutes "good" search results routinely advocate regulating the search engine ranking process in a way that advances their normative objectives.
I've now posted my latest thoughts on this topic in an article entitled "Search Engine Bias and the Demise of Search Engine Utopianism." It's coming out later this spring in the Yale Journal of Law and Technology. Regular blog readers won't be surprised that I come out swinging against the pro-regulatory forces who think they can do a better job shaping search results than search engines can do without regulatory "help." I welcome your comments.
"Due to search engines’ automated operations, people often assume that search engines display search results neutrally and without bias. However, this perception is mistaken. Like any other media company, search engines affirmatively control their users’ experiences, which has the consequence of skewing search results (a phenomenon called “search engine bias”). Some commentators believe that search engine bias is a defect requiring legislative correction. Instead, this Essay argues that search engine bias is the beneficial consequence of search engines optimizing content for their users. The Essay further argues that the most problematic aspect of search engine bias, the “winner-take-all” effect caused by top placement in search results, will be mooted by emerging personalized search technology."
Posted by Eric at March 30, 2006 07:20 AM | Search Engines
Some of that "emerging personalized search technology" was recently purchased by Google.
See The Evolution of Google at http://ecommercelaw.typepad.com/ecommerce_law/2006/04/the_evolution_o.html.
Posted by: Jonathan Frieden at April 12, 2006 11:36 PM
I believe there have been several law suits against various search engines regarding the rankings of individual web sites vis-a-vis others (i.e. competitors) in the recent years.
I don't know if any judgement was ever delivered against a search engine, forcing it to rank a specific site at a specific position in the results of specific searches. Any information on this, please?
Posted by: Vic at November 29, 2006 12:23 PM