In Google we trust?

Report insinuates that Google gives biased search results.

Here are some surprising results and a bit of tech advice for you.

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Let’s start with a very retro piece of tech advice.

Long ago, a techie friend of mine advised: “Always over-specify your searches”.

English translation: When searching, use more words rather than fewer to make your search more specific and, thus, make the likely answers be most relevant.

If you get no or too few hits, re-search by making the search less specific, i.e. take out some of your qualifying words.

Works for me

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Case in point

Over the weekend, non-MSM went viral on Google:

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Here’s the case that was being reported …

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According to InfoWars, channeling other sources, when you Google search “Hillary Clinton Health”, you get some odd – apparently biased search results.

I did it myself, and this is what I got:

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Note that there is no auto-suggest for Hillary’s health problems … which have been a trending story recently.

Hmmm.

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I repeated the same search on Microsoft’s Bing … auto-suggest results seem a bit more on target with what’s trending:

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A Yahoo search was tilted towards Hillary’s health issues … all auto-suggestions were on the trending topic.

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Proof positive that Google is biased, right?

Not, so fast!

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Let’s follow my buddy’s advice and tighten the Google search to “Hillary Clinton health problems”:

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The search results look pretty unbiased to me.

In fact, the first reference is to the article that blasts Google for returning biased results.

My conclusion: Google’s algorithm for auto-suggestions may under-weight current news trends, but a properly constructed search yields fair results.

For the record, Yahoo and Bing returned search results for “Hillary Clinton health problems” that were consistent with their auto-suggestions for “Hillary Clinton health”. That is, Bing returned a mix of Clinton’s health and policy articles; Yahoo was skewed to Clinton’s health issues.

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Tech takeaways:

(1) Heed my friend’s advice and start by over-specifying your search terms

(2) Be leery of search auto-suggestions … they may unpredictably skew your results

(3) If a search is really important to you, protect yourself by using more than one search engine

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#HomaFiles

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