Wired writes about how Google’s Search Algorithm Could Steal the Presidency:
The thing is, though, even though it’s tempting to think of algorithms as the very definition of objective, they’re not. “It’s not really possible to have a completely neutral algorithm,” says Jonathan Bright, a research fellow at the Oxford Internet Institute who studies elections. “I don’t think there’s anyone in Google or Facebook or anywhere else who’s trying to tweak an election. But it’s something these organizations have always struggled with.” Algorithms reflect the values and worldview of the programmers. That’s what an algorithm is, fundamentally. “Do they want to make a good effort to make sure they influence evenly across Democrats and Republicans? Or do they just let the algorithm take its course?” Bright asks.
Scary to think about the implications – intentional or not – of skewed search result data. Ultimately, people are building these algorithms and even if their intent is truly ‘good’, the possibility of pushing people one way or another is real. On a somewhat related note, there was a good Atlantic article last fall about a similar concern with Facebook.