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Search Engines and Power: A Politics of Online (Mis-) Information

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Author(s): Elad Segev

Journal: Webology
ISSN 1735-188X

Volume: 5;
Issue: 2;
Start page: 54;
Date: 2008;
Original page

Keywords: Search engines | Information inequalities | Misinformation | Structural biases | Politics of online information | Google Earth

ABSTRACT
Media and communications have always been employed by dominant actors and played a crucial role in framing our knowledge and constructing certain orders. This paper examines the politics of search engines, suggesting that they increasingly become "authoritative" and popular information agents used by individuals, groups and governments to attain their position and shape the information order. Following the short evolution of search engines from small companies to global media corporations that commodify online information and control advertising spaces, this study brings attention to some of their important political, social, cultural and economic implications. This is indicated through their expanding operation and control over private and public informational spaces as well as through the structural bias of the information they attempt to organize. In particular, it is indicated that search engines are highly biased toward commercial and popular US-based content, supporting US-centric priorities and agendas. Consequently, it is suggested that together with their important role in "organizing the world's information" search engines reinforce certain inequalities and understandings of the world.
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