Google rankings can influence Elections: Study
As per a new study conducted in India during the just concluded Lok Sabha Elections 2014, Google rankings can dramatically swing ill-informed voters leading to influence the election outcome.
The study done by Robert Epstein, a former editor of Psychology Today and noted Google critic, found that manipulating the Google search results can significantly influence the candidate preferences of the voters who are not well-informed and are undecided as they tend to sway towards candidates appearing on the top of the search results/ranking.
In the experiment it was found that search rankings biased in favour of a candidate could push the preferences of undecided voters towards that candidate by 15% or more. If there are two candidates and both vying to push their rankings higher then that’s fine. But if Google, which has a monopoly on search in India, were to favour one candidate, it could easily put that candidate in office by manipulating search rankings, and no one could counter that.
These manipulations can pose a serious threat to democracy. To prevent too much influence, election-related search rankings need to be regulated and monitored, as well as subjected to equal-time rules.