A quiet revolution has taken place in recent months, as Google, Microsoft, Facebook, and other internet gatekeepers have revised their search algorithms in an attempt to bring users more personalized information. This subtle shift has enormous implications for students, researchers, and society at large, experts say.
When web surfers use Google or Bing to look for information about, say, the national debt, the search results they now see at the top of the page might differ from those of their neighbor. That’s because all the major search engines have revamped their formulas to include social media data as key indicators of a website’s importance.
Every time we click on an internet link, we’re contributing to our online profile. In effect, we’re telling Google (and Yahoo!, Microsoft, and Facebook), “This is a source I like and trust.” Now, the ranking systems of all the major search engines take these hundreds of little endorsements we make every day and use them to deliver information that the companies behind these tools assume we’ll value: The links from our most “trusted” sources—such as our friends, or the websites we visit every day—appear at the top of our search results.…Read More