Although executives at Google have long maintained that the company takes a hands-off approach to its search engines, instead letting neutral algorithms respond to user searches, a recent report revealed a far higher degree of internal manipulation than the corporation has previously let on.
The Wall Street Journal discovered that Google has repeatedly implemented changes to its algorithm that favor big businesses over smaller ones. The company also keeps blacklists of certain sites, although it has publicly denied doing so in the past. Google has also exercised significant control over its “autocomplete” feature, weeding out auto-completes on controversial subjects like abortion and immigration.
The company performs “regular tinkering” on its algorithms in part to satisfy “a wide variety of powerful interests,” the paper said. Google updated its algorithm code 3,200 times last year, up from 500 times in 2010.