“By manipulating its search results, Google could decide the next election,” David Goldman reports for CNNMoney.

“The world’s most-used search engine is so powerful and national elections are so tight, that even a tiny tweak in Google’s secret algorithm could swing the 2016 presidential election, according to Robert Epstein, senior research psychologist at the American Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology,” Goldman reports. “Epstein said that he and a team of researchers studied behavior in undecided voters who had been exposed to rigged search results. By displaying results that shone a more favorable light on a particular candidate the researchers could shift opinion towards that favored candidate.”

“The study boosted a candidate’s favorability rating by between 37% and 63% after just one 15-minute search session,” Goldman reports. “The research suggested that swinging an election was “well within Google’s control,” considering that President Obama won the 2012 election by just 3.9% and the 2016 polling is similarly too close to call.”

Full article here.

The aforementioned Robert Epstein writes for Politico, “According to Google Trends, at this writing Donald Trump is currently trouncing all other candidates in search activity in 47 of 50 states. Could this activity push him higher in search rankings, and could higher rankings in turn bring him more support? Most definitely—depending, that is, on how Google employees choose to adjust numeric weightings in the search algorithm. Google acknowledges adjusting the algorithm 600 times a year, but the process is secret, so what effect Mr. Trump’s success will have on how he shows up in Google searches is presumably out of his hands.

“Google’s official comment on SEME research is always the same: ‘Providing relevant answers has been the cornerstone of Google’s approach to search from the very beginning. It would undermine the people’s trust in our results and company if we were to change course,'” Epstein writes. “Could any comment be more meaningless? How does providing “relevant answers” to election-related questions rule out the possibility of favoring one candidate over another in search rankings? Google’s statement seems far short of a blanket denial that it ever puts its finger on the scales.”

“Given Google’s strong ties to Democrats, there is reason to suspect that if Google or its employees intervene to favor their candidates, it will be to adjust the search algorithm to favor Hillary Clinton. In 2012, Google and its top executives donated more than $800,000 to Obama but only $37,000 to Romney. At least six top tech officials in the Obama administration, including Megan Smith, the country’s chief technology officer, are former Google employees,” Epstein writes. “According to a recent report by the Wall Street Journal, since Obama took office, Google representatives have visited the White House ten times as frequently as representatives from comparable companies—once a week, on average.”

Epstein writes, “The problem is that for all practical purposes, there is just one search engine. More than 75 percent of online search in the United States is conducted on Google, and in most other countries that proportion is 90 percent. That means that if Google’s CEO, a rogue employee or even just the search algorithm itself favors one candidate, there is no way to counteract that influence.

Read more in the full article – recommended – here.

MacDailyNews Take: This should be troubling to those who favor of free and fair elections.

When economic power became concentrated in a few hands, then political power flowed to those possessors and away from the citizens, ultimately resulting in an oligarchy or tyranny. — John Adams

The problem in this world is to avoid concentration of power – we must have a dispersion of power. — Milton Friedman

Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. — Lord Acton

SEE ALSO:
Why Google is the new evil empire – April 20, 2015
Google averages one White House meeting per week during Obama administration – March 25, 2015
Google’s Eric Schmidt spurns Obama cabinet post offer – December 11, 2012
Consumer Watchdog calls for probe of Google’s inappropriate relationship with Obama administration – January 25, 2011
Obama names Apple- and Google-friendly U.S. CIO – March 5, 2009

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Lynn Weiler” for the heads up.]