Google chemtrails: A methodology to analyze topic representation in search engine results

  • Andrea Ballatore Center for Spatial Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara
Keywords: search engines, media bias, search engine bias, media analysis, conspiracy theories, spatio-temporal bias

Abstract

Search engine results influence the visibility of different viewpoints in political, cultural, and scientific debates. Treating search engines as editorial products with intrinsic biases can help understand the structure of information flows in new media. This paper outlines an empirical methodology to analyze the representation of topics in search engines, reducing the spatial and temporal biases in the results. As a case study, the methodology is applied to 15 popular conspiracy theories, examining type of content and ideological bias, demonstrating how this approach can inform debates in this field, specifically in relation to the representation of non-mainstream positions, the suppression of controversies and relativism.

Author Biography

Andrea Ballatore, Center for Spatial Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara
Andrea Ballatore is a postdoctoral researcher and the research coordinator at the Center for Spatial Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara. In 2013, he received a PhD in Geographic Information Science from University College Dublin. He has worked as a lecturer at the Department of Computer Science at the National University of Ireland, Maynooth, and as a software engineer in Italy and Ireland. His interdisciplinary research focuses on the digital representations of place, crowdsourcing, and the technological imaginary at the intersection between computer science, geography, and media studies.
Published
2015-06-19
How to Cite
Ballatore, A. (2015). Google chemtrails: A methodology to analyze topic representation in search engine results. First Monday, 20(7). https://doi.org/10.5210/fm.v20i7.5597