Internet search engines impact political opinions

By Alliyah Maduro
March 24, 2018

Graphic by Coraline Pettine.
Graphic by Coraline Pettine.
It is crazy how the internet knows what we like to wear, the television shows we like to watch and our favorite foods to eat. I find it very creepy that we can search an item on a specific website, log into our social media accounts, then see an ad for that item.
Internet use impacts political decisions. Graphic by Coraline Pettine.

Not only do search engines memorize what we look up, they even know who we vote for and what kinds of ads we would want to see about candidates. On the Cabrini University Class of 2020 Facebook page, I created a poll. Three Cabrini students have voted that search engines do have an impact on our political views and one student disagreed on this subject.

According to research on Science Mag, a research psychologist at the American Institute of Behavioral Research, Robert Epstein, conducted an experiment back in 2010. Epstein and a few of his colleagues acquired 102 volunteers in San Diego, Cal. These volunteers were a part of the U.S. voting population. This first experiment demonstrated to see who the Californians would choose for the 2010 election in Australia for prime minister.

The experiment consisted of a test being given to the volunteers about both of the Australian candidates, Tony Abbott and Julia Gillard. The researchers created 30 search engine websites that included information about the candidates. After the test, the volunteers were lead to the website of the candidate they favored more. On the website, they would watch videos of their favored candidate that would say that they were superior to the other.

This experiment consisted of five studies all together and was called “The Search Engine Manipulation Effect and it’s Possible Impact on the Outcomes of Elections.” The study’s findings show that 20 percent of the voters’ preferences may change when they are shown the photos and videos. They conducted four other studies of search engine manipulation that showed that certain age and gender groups were very influenced by the information given to them by the search engine.

Search engines continue to impact people’s political views and opinions. Search engines such as Google, Bing and Yahoo help people find more information on their favored political candidate and non-favored candidate.

Of course, the search engines know to show you positive ads and videos on your candidate and also know to show you negative results on the other.

These search engines receive money from search engine companies to allow their website pages to be at the very top.

Many people tend to go to the internet for more information about candidates but little do they know, search engines are keeping track of what age they are, what they like and their behavior online.

Facebook keeps track of which political parties you are engaged with.

Search engines create a digital bandwagon effect.

Today, people always turn to the internet for certain news and information especially around the time of elections.

If you just retweet a video on a specific political party, you best believe when you log into your other social media platforms, you will see more ads on those candidates in that party and negative ads for the others.

Social media is tracking what people search and showing results tailored to previous searches. This prevents people from learning more and influences their decision making.

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Alliyah Maduro

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