People choose fake news and untrustworthy news, not Google – SRM Science and Religion in Media

People choose fake news and untrustworthy news, not Google – SRM Science and Religion in Media

Nature: Social sciences, people, not Google search, choose fake news and useful news.

Social Science: People, not Google search, choose fake news or Supporters. A study published in natures. Researchers have found that Google search disproportionately does not return results that reflect user beliefs, and instead, these sources are actively searched for by individuals.

It has been suggested that search engine algorithms may promote consumption of like-minded content, through politically biased search rankings, among other concerns. Such suggestions raise concerns about the cultivation of online “echo chambers” or “filter bubbles” that limit user exposure to dissenting opinions and further exacerbate existing biases.

To test whether search results influence what people choose to read, Ronald E. Robertson and colleagues studied a two-wave analysis of computer browsing data over two US elections, with 262-333 participants in 2018 (with increased samples of ‘strong supporters’ in this period) and 459-688 in 2020. Participants were asked to install a browser extension. A custom that records three sets of data: URLs presented to users on Google search results pages, URL interactions on those pages, and URL interactions more broadly across the Internet other than Google search results in those two time periods.This dataset includes more than 328,000 Google search results pages and approximately 46 million URLs from browsing the wider Internet.Source bias was assessed against broader engagement patterns across political bases and against participants’ stated political leanings.

In both phases of the study, participants were found to interact with fake or untrustworthy content more often than they were exposed to in Google search results. This indicates that the Google search algorithm was not leading users to content that confirmed their existing beliefs. Alternatively, the authors suggest that the formation of these ‘echo chambers’ could be driven by user choice, rather than computational intervention. We also found that unreliable news was less prevalent in URLs derived from Google search than in URLs tracked by Google search and shared more broadly, with the greatest contrast among strongly right-wing users.

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purpose nature: Users choose to interact with more partisan news than they are exposed to on a Google search. Users choose to interact with biased stories more than they do on a Google searchAnd the. DOI 10.1038/s41586-023-06078-5.

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