This The New Atlantis article about Google, its power, and its struggles with regulation is very interesting. But the ending is perhaps the most troubling:

Google links to a December 2016 Fortune article that explains, “Querying the search engine for ‘did the Holocaust happen’ now returns an unexpected first result: A page from the website Stormfront titled ‘Top 10 reasons why the Holocaust didn’t happen.’”

The example is instructive. The problem here is that Google does not claim that — as with the spammy payday loan results — there were any artificial tactics that led to this search result. And Google’s logic — “offensive or clearly misleading content … is not what people are looking for” — is peculiar and telling. For search results are supposed to be objective in no small part because they’re based on massive amounts of data about what other people have actually looked for and clicked on. Google seems to have it backward: The vexing problem is that people are increasingly getting offensive, misleading search results because that’s increasingly what people are looking for.

Posted by Matthew Loftus

Matthew Loftus teaches and practices Family Medicine in Baltimore and East Africa. His work has been featured in Christianity Today, Comment, & First Things and he is a regular contributor for Christ and Pop Culture. You can learn more about his work and writing at www.MatthewAndMaggie.org

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