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Misleading: Google and Search Results

Layne Radlauer Layne Radlauer
24th October 2020
Misleading: Google and Search Results
Google's search results are based on many factors, including region (Getty Images).

The Claim

Google is purposefully omitting some search results, especially in autocomplete.

Emerging story

In October 2020, many shared the claim on social media and discussed Google’s potential political slant.

Misbar’s Analysis

When a user searches for something, Google often makes suggestions. If someone types “what is” in the search bar, it will assume that they’re going to ask something based on previous user searches. Some have noticed irregularities in these suggestions. For example, one user noted that, while “Lying Ted” showed as a suggestion, “Crooked Hillary” did not. This has led to many believing that Google is intentionally manipulating search results.

Graphical user interface, text, application, email

Description automatically generated

Misbar’s investigation found that Google’s algorithm is extremely complicated. So complicated, in fact, that Google itself doesn’t exactly know how it works.

What we do know is that Google knows a lot about you. It knows where you are, what you like, how old you are, what you like to shop for, and so on. It uses this data to try and figure out what you’re going to search for. If you live in a left-leaning city, for example, it will be considered in the algorithm. It also takes in search popularity within a given region. Even though more people overall might search “Crooked Hillary,” that may not be true in all regions, which would lead to it not showing up as a potential search term in those regions.

Misbar’s Classification


Misbar’s Sources

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