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Poll: Are Google Searches Biased?

By  James Barrett

As the fallout over the falsely labeled “anti-diversity” Google memo continues, it’s a good time to take a look at users’ trust in the search engine giant. Online survey group Digital Examiner did just that, asking 1,000 users eight questions related to their confidence in the social justice-committed search engine leader. The result: While overall trust in Google remains high, a majority nonetheless believe Google’s searches are biased and don’t trust the company in tracking their search histories.

Analysts estimate that Google now controls “about 95 percent of mobile search query volume on a global basis,” topping around 30 billion searches total a month (Microsoft and Yahoo rank a distant second and third). In other words, Google’s influence in the world is alarmingly massive. So is the company providing its users unbiased results or manipulating data to promote its own agenda? Here are the questions Digital Examiner asked to get a sense of how much the public trusts the most influential company in the world:

  1. Do you know how Google makes money from people who search?
  2. Do You Trust Google Search Results to be Accurate?
  3. Do you think Google search results are biased in any way?
  4. Do you think your Google search results are different from other people’s Google search results?
  5. Would you like Google to give you more relevant results IF it meant they would save and use your search history to provide them?
  6. Do you think it’s obvious when Google is showing you an ad versus a regular listing in Google search results?
  7. Which types of searches do you most trust in Google results?
  8. Would you rather get an answer to a question you type into Google directly from Google, or from a specific website Google links to?

While a strong majority, 72.3%, said they trust Google search results to be accurate (27.7% don’t), a slim majority still said they believe that Google searches are biased in some way (52.3% yes, 47.7% no). Digital Examiner notes that interest in Google’s bias has been trending up in recent years, peaking around the 2016 election.

Asked if they believe their search results are different than others’, 56.5% said yes while 43.5% said no. Asked if they would prefer more relevant results if Google used their search histories to provide them, nearly two-thirds said no (65.3% vs. 34.7%), indicating that users do not trust Google with their personal data and revealing that most simply don’t understand that Google in fact has been personalizing searches for all users since 2009.

The survey also found that nearly two-thirds do not know how Google makes money from people who search (63.7% vs. 36.3%), but about that same percentage (64.2%) believe it’s easy to recognize a Google ad, suggesting a potential disconnect for many users about how Google’s ads operate.

Big picture: While skepticism about Google’s bias appears to be on the rise, and many users clearly do not understand how the search engine operates or funds itself, the global giant’s 72% accuracy rating and absolute dominance in the mobile search market probably gives the social justice warriors over at Google enough reason to feel like they can do just about anything they want.

Below is the graphic of the poll provided by Digital Examiner:

Do People Trust Google Search Results

Methodology: “Our survey data was collected using Google Surveys. Google Surveys makes use of the inferred demographic and location information to employ stratified sampling by distributing the surveys based on the targeted audience to our publisher network and/or android smartphone users. Click here to learn more about the Google Surveys methodology.”

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