Is Google Showing Political Bias with Search Results?

Favoring Positive Obama Results and Negative Bush Ones?

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There are people who think Google is incorporating political bias into search results. As examples they use misspellings of George Bush and Barack Obama. Are the results of misspelled queries really something Google would take the time to specifically alter to inject their political beliefs though?

Search for Barack Aboma in Google and you will get a "Did you mean: barack obama" suggestion, and the top 2 results for Barack Obama:

Barack Aboma search results

Search for George Busch and you won’t get any suggestions:

George Busch search results

You will just get stuff like Bush getting a shoe thrown at him and "George Busch is a Fascist" t-shirts.

This has led some to speculate that Google is showing its political bias. Top executives with the company were very open about supporting Barack Obama during his presidential campaign. Eric Schmidt even appeared in Obama’s 30 minute infomercial. This surely only adds to the speculation.

"So what is this all about?" asks someone under the handle Discovery on Search Engine Watch’s Forum. "Obama who Google endorses has all negative pictures, negative sites and negative videos completely removed and his self promoting website put in their place while at the same time George Busch has every single nasty photo, nasty attack site and video presented with NO alterations by Google’s editors to direct searchers to what they deem a more relevant site?"

Is this what is really going on though? You may get the suggestion of a correct spelling with "Aboma," but there are still negative results in the "Aboma" listings. Stuff like "Will Barack Aboma Try To Destroy America?" Further more, if I search for George Bushl, I get a suggestion for "George Bush" and his top 2 results, which are links to his Wikipedia page and to the White House. And the George Bushl results aren’t that bad either.

George Bushl search results

Barry Schwartz at Search Engine Roundtable, who  makes it clear he doesn’t think Google is doing any biasing, thinks it is more a bias of the American people and the results are simply a reflection of that. "But is there more going on?" he asks.

Perhaps Google just doesn’t have its algorithm fine-tuned to eliminate political bias for every possible misspelling of every possible search. And frankly, they’ve probably got more important issues to worry about than providing the best results for erroneous searches. I personally would rather see them continue to improve search for correctly spelled queries.

Is Google Showing Political Bias with Search Results?
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  • JessWonderin

    What a STUPID whinny ARTICAL!!!
    There is NO BIAS in that the VAST amount of Bush news reflects his FAILURE as a leader, and conversely Obama has been in only a short time and done wonders . . . the premise of this artical may dound good, but REEKS of childish Rush Limbaugh inuendo, NOT deserving space HERE!!! Get a GRIP – when Obama has a HUGE AMOUNT of HIGH INTERST (“relevancy” we say on the “Innernets tubes”) they will RANK HIGHER. Seems the “bias” is here in the form of a whinny Republican mole . . .

    • Chris Crum

      Looks like someone else didn’t read the “artical.” Since it was about people making these claims, and not me making them.

      • JessWonderin

        Chris . . . take some responsibility . . YOU made the “choice” to showcase these low information individuals . . . a little “journalistic” neutrality is expected in a professional site . . . and I ACCEPT the error on spelling “artical” . . was a little blown away by the useless ARTICLE you posted and neglected the details . . . as it seems you did.

        • Chris Crum

          Just thought it seemed worth discussing since this is what some people think….turns out that (judging from the comments) it was.

  • Ripper

    This has really nothing to do with who was/is the better president…

    Yes, I believe that bias exists in Google…anyone who knows a little history (Hollerith Machine) should remember that some companies are willing to ignore all ethics to make a buck.

    Wasn’t Google an enabler for censorship in China? Saying that Google is just respecting China’s laws is a cop out, with that reasoning you could then say that pre-IBM was just respecting Nazi Germanies laws.

    Do you wonder if Google related searches (via google) will ever be missed by the indexer?

    Google is in a very powerful position to return specific points of view (aka China) and I find it very hard to believe that they wouldn’t take advantage of that position on occasion.

  • http://www.diamondonnet.com/ Diamonds

    Not surprised if this is true since Gogole did support him and a lot of their employees supported him during the campaign.

  • http://www.6eif.org/ ??? ?????

    Thank’s my dear

  • http://usapatriotsandfreedomlovers.blogspot.com/ Patriot

    I’m Republican (more of a Libertarian/”Liberal” Republican), and I know it seems like there is heavy political bias on searches, but I think the rational guess is that there is no intentional bias on Google’s part (great issue to discuss though!). I really hope not. I personally would no longer use Google if that were the case. I know the founders are left-leaning, but it would be an unforgiveable betrayal of the publics’ trust to be politically biased, and I think they know that. I would be the first to launch a massive awareness campaign if it is found Google is politically biased.

    I think what gives this impression is that Bush was a very unpopular present by the end of his term and the internet publishing world is dominated by liberals and those leaning left, resulting in very skewered results. Those on the left have embraced the internet (as developers and users) more quickly and completely than those on the right (one of the only things I can credit to the left), so there is statistically more left-leaning content out there on the web. Even in forums where there are roughly equal numbers on both sides, the left tends to be more loud-mouthed and therefore creates more web content to be indexed.

    As I said, I doubt Google will “go there” and inject political bias, but if they do, let me know – and I’ll let the world know! I promise!

  • Patriot

    By the way, this is important enough of an issue that Google should be directly asked to verify that they do not inject political bias, even subtly. Like I said, I doubt they do, but it would be in their best interest to do so, to maintain public (their user/customer base) trust.

    Because Google has such a “natural monopoly”, they have alot of power. They need to use that power very, very responsibly.

  • Indi-middle

    I am an independent who enjoys seeing both sides. But I have to go with Google bias towards left on this one. I like going to Drudge Report and I notice when I type it in Google, the first result is Drudge Retort with a

  • Don Neske

    I subscribe to WebProNews to get information to improve my business and career skills. I didn’t sign up to read sophmoric political guesswork performed in the guise of web marketing insight. You have damaged your brand and reputation. I for one am not impressed by political belly-aching. Please stay on top or risk losing your professional audience. Thank you.

    • Guest

      “I didn’t sign up to read sophmoric political guesswork performed in the guise of web marketing insight. You have damaged your brand and reputation”

      WELL SAID! Very conspiracy theory like and completely way off topic.

  • Guest

    Of course Google is bias!

    How can you explain that when ones enters Drudge, that the Drudge Reort isnt the first site to appear , and that Drudge Retort is.

    There is no other explanation than absolute manipulaion and bias.
    and if they will do it so obviously here they will do all over in more less obvious ways.

    Google is a s bais as any other entity run by admitted liberals!

    If the GOP had any brains they would fund a search engine that was more flattering to their ideals as Google is to the DNC’s ideals.

  • Guest

    Not is only google bias towards the left but so is Wikopedia!

    I was hearing people calling people who supported Democrats as being democratic.

    Now democratic is an adjective and Democrat is a noun.

    Yet Wikopedia seemed to think it was the other way arround and thet Republican scaaling Democrats , “Democrats and not democratiic was a slur and an insult!

    So if a Republican said my Democart friend he would be putting down the person by not insted sayin my democratic freind.

    So its not the Democrat party its the Democratic party?

    We live in a Republic that is run democratically

    Do we call Republican the Republic party?

    Believe me not all Democrats are democratic!

    Just look at Nancy Pelosi.

    For Wikopedia to go out of its way to spin this term democratic and Democrat to have the very same meaning is ridiculous.

    If I googled the word Republic would a Republican site come to the forefront?

    If I googled Democratic what would come up?

    Lets find out shall we?

    • Guest

      Jesus, anyone with half a brain should be able to tell this is just how search engines work when you have a completely incompetent (now EX-president) and someone who is the complete opposite. People don’t like Bush, people like Obama. That’s why there are lots of nice pages for Obama and nasty ones about Bush. This is no conspiracy and that whole nothing just seems completely absurd. Especially in regards to other online venues being deemed as too “leftist” like Wikipedia. That is just hugely ignorant.

  • lots0

    All it takes is a little real SEO work to determine if Google is bias or if the people of the Web are biased.

    You don’t need guesses or weird conspiracy theories.

    Just do a little SEO work and you’ll see it’s the people of the Web that are Biased and Google just reflects the opinions of the people of the Web…

    • http://www.roomfurniturechina.com wholesale bedroom furniture

      I’ve come up from behind someone in the left lane only to find out that they were on the phone and yes even texting while driving, I could care less about your liberty when you endanger my life or safety for the sake of a call that could have wated until your were home. I’ve been trapped behind people on their phones for as long as 10 to 15 minutes while they slow down then speed up and slow down again oblivious to the road or others around them.

  • Guest

    Don’t criticize the messenger of this article who obviously did not drink the Obama Cyanide laced Socialist Kool Aid….

    We did not have a democratic election..what we had was a media malpractice meltdown that didn’t even report that Obama was not eligible to ever run in the first place….Obama didn’t seal his real birth certificate, his school records,etc. for nothing…biggest dupe in American history….now every foreign born person can run for the Presidency and there’s nothing we can do about it….you don’t know what you have done…

    I am a 30 year Democrat but I could see thru the manipulative scheme and the subliminal messaging, and I did not vote for Obama….I still can’t shake this errie feeling I have….and I am seldom wrong….

    On many blogs and most postings negative about Obama, the postings simply did not show up, especially on AOL… owned by Google..suprised??? Don’t be….. we are the sheep being led to the slaughter…Hitler’s manipulative Socialism at it’s finest…Hitler would be so proud…..but the few of us are watching with eyes wide open…while the rest of you…..keep drinking that Kool Aid….

    The truth is irrevelant in this US (a.k.a. Obama Nation)….

    • Guest

      Total Nut Job…

  • Anonymous

    I think it’s quite clear Obama’s outfit is a lot more computer savvy than Bush’s team. Certainly they have been working a lot with SEO to get the good results on top – and the Bush following hasn’t even had a clue that they should try to get their own positive stuff on top of and above the material their political opponents publish.

    Simple as that – or at least a part of the explanation.

    • Chris

      THIS IS THE ONLY ANSWER. Thank you for inserting some intelligence into this thread.

  • http://www.livebreatheanddie.com Truthteller

    Thanks for writing about this. It’s a subject that far too many people would prefer to sweep under the rug or simply ignore because if favors their ideology or candidates. If the shoe were on the other foot, they would be screaming from every blog and every newspaper headline in the land.

    This bias permeates every segment of our society. Google is only one glaring example.

    You can see by some of the criticism of your piece that the people who have Google and Yahoo and Wikipedia and all of the nations’ newspapers and national news programming in their corner don’t want to hear about this truth. For them, this is a real inconvenient truth.

    One would think that the underlying principle would matter to all Americans, since it goes contrary to the deepest convictions of those who pioneered modern day news and any notion of full and fair disclosure.

    Those on the ideological left are very intolerant of subjects like bias in the media and Internet or the faith of Christians. You can find tens of thousands of blog articles and forum postings that bare this sad fact out. Witness the re-emergence of the fairness doctrine for instance. What irony.

    Your piece exposes the tip of the iceberg of what is a wholesale industry in this country. For that, you should be commended.

  • http://www.netbooster.com Gilles Bourdin

    I don’t think Google is actively influencing search results in any case. In the case of Bush, it is a fact that the mood on the internet is against him and Google is just reflecting this.
    What was his popularity score just before he left again?


  • http://www.vipdistinct.com Atlanta Concierge

    What about that guy with the facebook account that’s 22 with the same name – is that for real?

  • Dan

    If you google MYSPACE the 2nd result right after Myspace.com is Barack Obama’s Myspace Page. The wikipedia entry comes after that.

  • http://www.neotericuk.co.uk/seo.php seo

    it is really a quite interesting fact.

  • http://www.tm.com.sa Touch Melody

    Hi Good articales ..

    thanks for your efforts ..

    Touch Melody

  • Guest

    But there are clearly as many people who hate Obama as hated Bush.

    And at the same time during his presidency Bush’s approval rating amongst Americans (what one of the other posters refers to as the “the internet”) was higher than Obama’s dismal 47% at the moment.

    So why does Google’s results not reflect this?

    Why when you type in Obama does nothing about his significant opposition come up like it always did with Bush?

    (I guess it’s because democrats are “more computer savvy”…in other words they don’t have jobs and they’re on the internet all day trying to manipulate search results so they institutionalize the current situation where hard working people–read conservative–pay liberals to collect their taxes. In the future it will all be regulated and we’ll pay our taxes to the designated ‘chief community organizer’.)

  • erwin

    Over here in the netherlands if i do a search for PVV which is the political party of Geert Wilders, i always first have to see a bunch of ANTI pvv News ads … ALWAYS.

    It really was so obvious google is being bias and showing leftwing propaganda, which kinda makes me sick. I thought the Internet was like one of the last spots where we can finally view real media and news because all other media sources are invested with left propaganda, now we also are losing that.

    Its a shame google mixes and takes sides in results .. and this is happening on a lot of levels and its very clear its happening.

    • Chelle

      You’re dreaming or lying …Google goes where the money goes, and the left doesn’t have the corporate backing to be paying for ads, so guess again, my fascist “friend.”

  • http://two-t-ranch.com Michelle

    I notice they are very directed in putting forth misinformation when truthful information has been deleted. George Bush is not their only victim. They are echoing the same old Leftist, hearsay misinformed rhetoric that started with Walter Cronkite and then TIME in 1970, over and over again in a search for information on a former FBI undercover agent. They are ignoring facts to push their own political agenda. This Agent was cited by the Attorney General for doing an outstanding contribution to the Country after a year long Blue Ribbon Special Grand Jury’s deep investigation. They have made a villain of a Patriot by labeling him an “Agent Provocateur” a term coined by Cronkite. Which would have been an easy defense for those convicted if at all true.

  • http://www.warriorforum.com/members/snesemulators.html Glayds Campble

    You really make it seem so easy with your presentation but I find this topic to be really something that I think I would never understand. It seems too complex and extremely broad for me. I’m looking forward for your next post, I will try to get the hang of it!

  • Dee

    I feel as do many other minorities, that both bing and google are extremely bias in their cataloging of facts about Whites and others.

    Example: google why white people lie so much and see what the search reveals. Google any statistic on white on white crime…Nada..but boy can you find a shitload of crap about others. I do not trust any thing I research from the two. We intend to expose this bias to the world. All they have to do to prove I am right? Google any thing beginning with Why do White People…

    If you cannot be equal in your content… you ought to find a new business, because sooner or later this will end for you.

    • Chelle

      Well, fact is there is more minority on minority crime. Speaking AS a member of a minority, that don’t make me wanna dance and sing, but it’s the truth. You chose a bad example there, sister. Just the same, Google is biased, big time, but it’s about money, not race.

  • Dee

    True…very Bias!

  • Chelle

    This is such nonsense. Google is selling ads as well as results, so is corporately biased, so this automatically means it’s more biased to the right than the left. It is nearly impossible to get straight-forward information from Google anymore from the first several pages of any search because you have to wade through all the corporately sponsored ads. This junk about how they support Obama is beyond ridiculous. They are in the 1% club now, boys and girls, reason it out. If you can’t manage that, just use your freaking EYES!

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