Sunday, March 01, 2015

Don't it strike fear into your heart?

You can see why the alarm bells are going off over at the National Review:

Google plans to bias its search engines in favor of the supposedly factual accuracy of the sites to which it links. From the New Scientist story:
THE internet is stuffed with garbage. Anti-vaccination websites make the front page of Google, and fact-free “news” stories spread like wildfire. Google has devised a fix – rank websites according to their truthfulness.
Google’s search engine currently uses the number of incoming links to a web page as a proxy for quality, determining where it appears in search results. So pages that many other sites link to are ranked higher. This system has brought us the search engine as we know it today, but the downside is that websites full of misinformation can rise up the rankings, if enough people link to them.
Don't tell me -- that'd be like the ones that throw scare quotes around "facts"? Just wondering. Anyway, this is a matter of profound concern for Buckley's heirs:
As the old saying goes, there are facts–and then, there are facts. These days a lot of things are called “facts” that aren’t–often surrounding heated political and cultural controversies.
That is why I think Google’s plan will open the door for profound political, cultural, or ideological bias in what should be a neutral function. Perhaps that is the point.
Imagine a world in which links to Fox and Drudge -- and for that matter, the National Review itself -- weren't cyber-mistaken for votes in favor of their credibility.

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