Google is in the middle of hearings with the Department of Justice regarding potential antitrust concerns. Through the hearing, a lot of behind the scenes information at Google is coming to light; including how Google alters search queries to generate revenue.
According to a Wired article from former DuckDuckGo executive Megan Gray, Google revealed how they make hidden changes to user input in order to prompt more commercial results.
Google likely alters queries billions of times a day in trillions of different variations. Here’s how it works. Say you search for “children’s clothing.” Google converts it, without your knowledge, to a search for “NIKOLAI-brand kidswear,” making a behind-the-scenes substitution of your actual query with a different query that just happens to generate more money for the company, and will generate results you weren’t searching for at all. It’s not possible for you to opt out of the substitution. If you don’t get the results you want, and you try to refine your query, you are wasting your time. This is a twisted shopping mall you can’t escape.
It’s been known for years that Google promotes their own interests in more apparent ways. Customers are steered towards certain content by curated biases in auto-fill and suggestions, meanwhile other content is deprioritized or even “blacklisted”.
However this reported behind-the-scenes change does more than simply steer users to desired content; this type of change fundamentally puts words in peoples’ mouths through internet search queries and misrepresents what they search for.
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