Google may be the world’s most popular search engine, but it has also been the subject of a number of accusations in recent years that it is purposefully censoring searches and influencing results. In the case of search results related to the Parkland shooting, that alleged influence is becoming even more apparent.
This week, the staff at The Free Thought Project began testing various keywords related to the Parkland shooting on different search engines, and we noticed that if our search terms were controversial, the first page of Google results was filled with entirely different information than the other search engines. The information showed on Google was often not relevant to our search, and the results always seemed to support the official narrative.
The most striking of these results came when we searched for the words “girl says 3 shooters parkland,” expecting the news footage of an eyewitness from the school saying that there were multiple shooters.
On Google this video did not come up, nor did any articles about the statement that the student made to the news, despite the fact that our search was extremely specific….
Gargle has also been caught putting users in personally customized “information bubbles” by delivering results which adhere to profiles generated automatically by prior search histories, keying on the users’ cookies. In other words, if you frequent mainstream news sources you’ll get different results than people with a more diverse input. In this way the peasants can be kept ignorant while those who aren’t totally clueless can still be channeled in specific directions as needed. Everyone gets a personal echo chamber which isolates them from different perspectives. This is the problem which startpage is supposedly designed to avoid.
At this point it’s probably not even sufficient to use big alternatives like duckduckgo. If you’re serious about avoiding censorship you need to actively seek out search engines from different countries, especially if you’re researching topics relevant to power centers in your home country.