In our PNAS article, Robertson and I calculated that Google now has the power to flip upwards of 25 per cent of the national elections in the world with no one knowing this is occurring. And because search rankings are ephemeral, they leave no paper trail, which gives the company complete deniability. Power on this scale and with this level of invisibility is unprecedented in human history. But it turns out that our discovery about SEME was just the tip of a very large iceberg. R ecent reports suggest that the Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is making heavy use of social media to try to generate support — Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat and Facebook, for starters.
At this writing, she has 5. The Republican frontrunner, Donald Trump, has 5. Is social media as big a threat to democracy as search rankings appear to be? Not necessarily.
When new technologies are used competitively, they present no threat. Even through the platforms are new, they are generally being used the same way as billboards and television commercials have been used for decades: you put a billboard on one side of the street; I put one on the other. I might have the money to erect more billboards than you, but the process is still competitive. What happens, though, if such technologies are misused by the companies that own them? The reminders caused about , people to vote who otherwise would not have. Writing in the New Republic in , Jonathan Zittrain, professor of international law at Harvard University, pointed out that, given the massive amount of information it has collected about its users, Facebook could easily send such messages only to people who support one particular party or candidate, and that doing so could easily flip a close election — with no one knowing that this has occurred.
And because advertisements, like search rankings, are ephemeral, manipulating an election in this way would leave no paper trail. Are there laws prohibiting Facebook from sending out ads selectively to certain users? Absolutely not; in fact, targeted advertising is how Facebook makes its money. Is Facebook currently manipulating elections in this way? No one knows, but in my view it would be foolish and possibly even improper for Facebook not to do so. The Bond study was largely ignored, but another Facebook experiment , published in in PNAS , prompted protests around the world.
In this study, for a period of a week, , Facebook users were sent news feeds that contained either an excess of positive terms, an excess of negative terms, or neither. Those in the first group subsequently used slightly more positive terms in their communications, while those in the second group used slightly more negative terms in their communications.
People were also upset that a large-scale experiment on emotion had been conducted without the explicit consent of any of the participants. Gmail users are generally oblivious to the fact that Google stores and analyses every email they write, even the drafts they never send — as well as all the incoming email they receive from both Gmail and non-Gmail users. Then it could send customised rankings favouring one candidate to just those people. But never with you. Certainly, if Google set about to fix an election, it could first dip into its massive database of personal information to identify just those voters who are undecided.
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Then it could, day after day, send customised rankings favouring one candidate to just those people. Extreme forms of monitoring, whether by the KGB in the Soviet Union, the Stasi in East Germany, or Big Brother in , are essential elements of all tyrannies, and technology is making both monitoring and the consolidation of surveillance data easier than ever.
Prof. Dr. Dirk Lewandowski - Search Studies
By , China will have put in place the most ambitious government monitoring system ever created — a single database called the Social Credit System , in which multiple ratings and records for all of its 1. At a glance, they will know whether someone has plagiarised schoolwork, was tardy in paying bills, urinated in public, or blogged inappropriately online. S ince Robertson and I submitted our initial report on SEME to PNAS early in , we have completed a sophisticated series of experiments that have greatly enhanced our understanding of this phenomenon, and other experiments will be completed in the coming months.
We have a much better sense now of why SEME is so powerful and how, to some extent, it can be suppressed. We have also learned something very disturbing — that search engines are influencing far more than what people buy and whom they vote for. We now have evidence suggesting that on virtually all issues where people are initially undecided, search rankings are impacting almost every decision that people make.
Remember what the search algorithm is doing: in response to your query, it is selecting a handful of webpages from among the billions that are available, and it is ordering those webpages using secret criteria. Seconds later, the decision you make or the opinion you form — about the best toothpaste to use, whether fracking is safe, where you should go on your next vacation, who would make the best president, or whether global warming is real — is determined by that short list you are shown, even though you have no idea how the list was generated.
The technology has made possible undetectable and untraceable manipulations of entire populations that are beyond the scope of existing regulations and laws. Meanwhile, behind the scenes, a consolidation of search engines has been quietly taking place, so that more people are using the dominant search engine even when they think they are not.
- Verwendung - Translation from German into English | PONS.
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Because Google is the best search engine, and because crawling the rapidly expanding internet has become prohibitively expensive, more and more search engines are drawing their information from the leader rather than generating it themselves. The most recent deal, revealed in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing in October , was between Google and Yahoo! In April , Clinton hired Stephanie Hannon away from Google to be her chief technology officer and, a few months ago, Eric Schmidt, chairman of the holding company that controls Google, set up a semi-secret company — The Groundwork — for the specific purpose of putting Clinton in office.
They can also help her win the nomination, of course, by influencing undecided voters during the primaries. Swing voters have always been the key to winning elections, and there has never been a more powerful, efficient or inexpensive way to sway them than SEME.
We are living in a world in which a handful of high-tech companies, sometimes working hand-in-hand with governments, are not only monitoring much of our activity, but are also invisibly controlling more and more of what we think, feel, do and say. The technology that now surrounds us is not just a harmless toy; it has also made possible undetectable and untraceable manipulations of entire populations — manipulations that have no precedent in human history and that are currently well beyond the scope of existing regulations and laws. The new hidden persuaders are bigger, bolder and badder than anything Vance Packard ever envisioned.
If we choose to ignore this, we do so at our peril. Catherine Wilson. Rasch Hrsg.
Artikel auf goethe.de weiterempfehlen
Amsterdam: Institute of Network Culture. Stark, D. Aufenager Hrsg. Berlin, Boston: de Gruyter. Die Macht der Suchmaschinen und ihr Einfluss auf unsere Entscheidungen. Representative online study to evaluate the revised commitments proposed by Google on 21 October as part of EU competition investigation AT.
Designing search engine retrieval effectiveness tests with RAT. Pasi, G. Jain Hrsg. Heidelberg: Springer. Singer, G. Ordinary search engine users carrying out complex search tasks. Journal of Information Science, 39 3 , — Lewandowski Hrsg.
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