Full Member from US
joined:Oct 9, 2009
Well, okay, it's fairly obvious, but the fact that it's being researched is interesting.
Internet search rankings have a significant impact on consumer choices, mainly because users trust and choose higher-ranked results more than lower-ranked results. Given the apparent power of search rankings, we asked whether they could be manipulated to alter the preferences of undecided voters in democratic elections.
With great public awareness comes great accountability. But, yeesh. When you think about it, so many factors go in to rankings that I wonder how we can say, "This is the manipulation! Right here!" It's kind of a sliding scale, from blatant influence to "Why, that naughty coder!" And even if we can pinpoint it, how do we determine who dunnit? Would we want to? Do we WANT to know how we're influenced? It seems to be an evolving basic human right - our right to influence and be influenced without our ideas being subject to critical scrutiny or sanctions, either by ourselves or others. Who is not allowed to influence? Where do we draw the line and call it oppressive?
Edit: I don't mean to bring up politics. Just social philosophy. Without politics. I hope. Please.