Trump Says Google Is Rigged — But Do We Actually Know How It Works?

The company tries to keep how Google delivers search results a secret.

About 90 percent of all searches on the web run through Google, which means the company has an enormous role in directing the worldwide flow of information on the internet. Last week, Donald Trump accused Google of abusing that power. He said that the company was intentionally suppressing positive stories about his administration, claims that were discredited by search experts and even some vocal opponents of Google. However, the president’s concerns spoke to a growing uneasiness about the influence tech companies have over what we see online, reports The New York Times. 

Not many people understand how Google delivers search results — because Google tries to keep it a secret. But The Times explains that when you start typing a search, Google’s computer systems begin shifting through its index of hundreds of billions of web pages that use the exact wording you are or a relate phrase. Then it puts the pages in order, using a secret algorithm. Google says it does not reveal this algorithm because it would make it easier for people to try to game search results. But The Times writes that it of course has another reason to keep its search engine formula secret: it’s proprietary.

Google relies on human “raters” to inform the quality of search results. They have 10,000 raters all around the world who rate the quality of search results to determine whether the pages ranked first deliver expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness. They cannot directly change how Google’s search algorithm functions.

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