Tech UPTechnologyCould Google Influence the US Presidential Election?

Could Google Influence the US Presidential Election?

The world is full of invisible influences: the music of a store that makes us walk more slowly in order to see more products and end up spending more money or the correct placement of some elements on television or in the movies. Could these subliminal messages somehow delimit our voting intention?

With the United States presidential elections just around the corner, a study carried out by the American Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology in Vista, California (USA-) and published in the journal Science wanted to see how our current online information input windows (especially Google and Facebook) could influence the voting result.

Google already know how it works. The higher an item appears in the search engine results list, the better link it is considered and the more users will click on it. Logically, these solutions help us greatly if what we are looking for is a kitchen utensil, a sports garment or an initiation pack to writing with a pen. But … what if we talk about politics? Psychologist Robert Epstein and lead author of the study showed that simply linking one candidate above another in a rigged search could sway undecided voters to choose their candidate.

In one phase of the experiment, they tested a group of real voters before the 2014 general election in India and found that skewed search results could increase the number of undecided voters deciding to choose a candidate by 12% or more. .

The effect was invisible to the study participants , as most were unaware that they were seeing manipulated results. But even those in the know thought the search engine was simply doing its job ranking the best candidate in the top zone.

How much could Google influence the 2016 elections?

According to Epstein’s calculations, Google’s biased results could shift the vote in November by as much as 2%, or what is the same, about 2.6 million votes. This may not sound like much, but many presidential elections in the United States have ended up being decided by narrower margins than this (George Bush VS Al Gore in 2000, for example).

Epstein believes that Google is capitalizing on the invisible influence of its search engine, to the benefit of the Democratic nominee . But while he has no evidence that search results are skewed, Epstein has discovered some strange discrepancies that appear to favor Clinton in search suggestions.

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