In Google We Trust

February 18, 2015

According to a recent report, it appears that people trust the aggregator more than the sources it aggregates. Wait, what? Search Engine Journal (SEJ) informs us that “Google Is a More Trusted Source of News than Traditional Media [Report].” Of the 27,000 people surveyed for the report (published by Quartz), 72% trust “online search engines,” 64% trust traditional media, and 59% trust social media. (Personally, I find that last figure most troubling; but I digress.) Writer Matt Southern tells us:

“Where the trust stems from is a search engine’s ability to give users an at-a-glance look at news and information from a variety of sources. That is, apparently, more dependable for most people than getting news and/or information from a single source.

“What this really means is getting news from more than one source is preferable compared to putting sole trust in the reporting of one publication….

“On the other hand, you must also consider that Google’s algorithm takes into account your search history when serving up search results. So, for example, if you often come to SEJ for your SEO news then you’ll see more results from SEJ when conducting a search.”

We seem to be choosing ease-of-use over being well-informed from a wide range of viewpoints. Some people make that trade-off knowingly. Others, apparently, believe their personalized “variety” of sources actually give them the full picture. Let us not mistake convenience for trustworthiness; being well-informed sometimes takes a little effort.

Cynthia Murrell, February 18, 2015

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