Researcher Says That Google Could Easily Manipulate The 2016 Election

Posted by Staff writer on Aug 27, 2015 06:20 AM EDT
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WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 08: People stand in the lobby of Google's Washington headquarters, January 8, 2015 in Washington, DC. Google held a news conference with Right4Girls and the McCain Insitute to discuss ways to combat and prevent child sex trafficking. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images) (Photo : (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images))

According to recent study and experiment done by Robert Epstein and his associates, Google could decide the next election by simply manipulating not your votes, but the search results. On the study published in pnas, it presented some arguments on how a search engine like Google may simply impact the upcoming 2016 election;


"We present evidence from five experiments in two countries suggesting the power and robustness of the search engine manipulation effect (SEME). Specifically, we show that (i) biased search rankings can shift the voting preferences of undecided voters by 20% or more, (ii) the shift can be much higher in some demographic groups, and (iii) such rankings can be masked so that people show no awareness of the manipulation. Knowing the proportion of undecided voters in a population who have Internet access, along with the proportion of those voters who can be influenced using SEME, allows one to calculate the win margin below which SEME might be able to determine an election outcome."


According to Epstein, a senior research psychologist at the American Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology, a tiny tweak in Google's secret algorithm could swing the 2016 presidential election. But in response to such notion and research presented by the group, Google through their spokeswoman said that the algorithm is designed to provide "relevant answers" and doing what the study suggests "would undermine the people's trust in our results and company."


However, Epstein considers the reply of the tech Giant as "meaningless." For cnn quoted him saying that, "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."


Now if this would be true, then this would not be the first time that a company with influence is being accused of having a power to manipulate votes. For same thing was associated with Western Union in relevance to the 1876 presidential election. And one of the concerns cited by Epstein is that though Google's big bosses Larry Page and Sergey Brin will not be doing such thing, still there is no assurance that a rogue employee will not alter anything.

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