While most of us have been busy thinking about net neutrality, guess what Google has been doing. The leading search engine has decided to change the criteria it uses for ranking content on the internet, so that content will no longer be ranked by popularity, as it has been since the beginning. The new ranking system will instead use what it has determined to be ‘truth’ as its ranking tool. This Orwellian move opens the door for Google to homogenize thought and become the global arbiters of truth, with the ability to send content it declares as ‘untrue’ into the dustbin of obscurity.
The term ranking refers to the position at which a particular site appears in the results of a search engine query. A site or a web page is said to have a high ranking when it appears at or near the top of the list of results provided by a search. Under Google’s current set up, the higher the number of incoming links to a website or page, the higher the ranking. The content is considered too, but much of it is about popularity.
According to Hal Hodson writing for New Scientist:
“This system has brought us the search engine as we know it today, but the downside is that websites are full of misinformation that can rise up the rankings, if enough people link to them.”