Regulating the Information Gatekeepers

4492 Words Jul 14th, 2012 18 Pages
Doi:10.1145/1839676 . 1 8 3 9 6 9 5

Concerns about biased manipulation of search results may require intervention involving government regulation.
By PatRicK VoGL anD michaeL BaRRett

Regulating the information Gatekeepers
I N 2 0 0 3 , 2B Ig F e e T,

an Internet business specializing in the sale of oversize shoes ranked among the top results in Google searches for its products. Its prime location on the virtual equivalent of new York’s high-end shopping mecca Fifth Avenue brought a steady stream of clicks and revenue. But success was fleeting: mine the most relevant results in the index. Although the precise workings of these algorithms are kept at least as secret as Coca-Cola’s formula they are usually based on two main
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A leading U.S. commentator in online search asked: “If Google itself […] found itself in this situation, how are ordinary Web

spider/Crawler searches Web, storing pages in index

Web

index

sites to be expected to know the ‘rules’ about what they can or cannot do?”23 Third, our research supports the idea that there is no established process of announcement or appeal prior to rank demotion. Companies affected usually realize their fate only through a sudden loss of traffic or revenue. In a personal interview [2008], the CEO of an educational company told us: “The office called me and told me [...] that revenue was down [...], so I checked our logs and our history [...] It was all on one day. We were up to 14 million pageviews per month, and on one day it dropped
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