“According to newly published research by Stanford scholars, there appears to be no political favoritism for or against either major political party in the algorithm of a popular search engine. Stanford scholars reviewed the first page of Google search results for every candidate running for federal office in the 2018 U.S. election over a six-month period. After a systematic audit of about 4 million URLs scraped from the search engine, they found that sources from either end of the political spectrum are not being excluded from results. For the most part, the researchers found that the news sources most commonly held a relatively centrist point of view.
“Our data suggest that Google’s search algorithm is not biased along political lines, but instead emphasizes authoritative sources,” said Jeff Hancock, a professor of communication in the Stanford School of Humanities and Sciences, and author on the study that recently published in the Proceedings of the Association for Computing Machinery on Human-Computer Interaction. “I think audits of large-scale algorithms that play such an important role in so many aspects of our lives are crucial. We need to be able to trust that these AI systems aren’t biased in important ways, and without audits, it’s difficult to assess these opaque algorithms.”