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But turning back to Washington and SA surveillance scandal raising new questions this week certainly about technology.
And it's growing role not only in government but in politics in general some critics are now openly asking if -- Internet companies like Google.
Are powerful enough to actually influence the way you feel.
I'm -- Epstein is a senior research psychologist at the American institute for behavioral technology he -- his own study into the practices.
At some of these major Internet firms and he joins us now so Robert this is some fresh information he just recently presented -- and you were taking a look at.
Searched when we actually search for something on the Internet what exactly were you looking for a which he -- Well here he know that from consumer research that if you're ranked very high in -- search.
That generates a lot more sales so you know companies.
Spend billions of dollars in that now trying to push they're.
Their products and services higher in search rankings just for that reason so we -- the very simple question.
Since those high slots those -- search rankings are so powerful.
Could they influence the way people vote.
I thought we find it very very small kind of effect we found.
Huge effect we found.
That just by playing with -- search rankings.
We could push voters.
The undecided voters we could push them one way or the other by 15%.
Or more in other words.
You could buy altering search rankings deliberately.
You could determine the outcome of many many elections around the world.
We also found that you could do this without anyone knowing.
That they're being manipulated that's the really scary.
-- so let's go back to -- a couple pars react to talk about is a fascinating topic you talked about some private companies out companies they try to push themselves -- -- by search I wanna buy shoes.
You know companies gonna try to become the first thing that I click on.
How how -- companies go about moving up.
So that there is at the top of the list and how do you political campaigns organizations do it do they all do it the same.
They all do the same way it's through a process -- link building it's basically they're trying to fox.
The the algorithm is.
That companies like Google used to determine those rankings they can also buy slots of course -- those little paid ads you know at the top and over on the right.
But be really really valuable slots are the ones that are called organic.
And -- -- companies are spending just in this can't -- on the spending twenty billion dollars a year.
I just and that process of the search engine optimization of scholar at CEO just trying to push higher and higher and higher and -- political organizations do it too.
But what we're very concerned about pace and the -- search.
Is that a search engine company if they wanted to support one candidate or another the search engine company they can Alter those rankings.
As they please.
And they can do in such a way that.
No one will know -- they're doing and they literally can determine the outcome of election.
So we reach out to do well because -- sixers imagine anyone says search engine you know Google has become a verb now that is a place to visit on the lap eight and having your comments on.
And some of your research.
But have you found any evidence.
That companies are doing that at this time that they actually are manipulating their search not based on the money that they're getting her.
What some of these political organizations are doing that they're taking an active role.
In whites I might see.
If I'm saying we're -- something -- -- -- -- Well that's the scariest thing in -- of all because any given election we looked carefully at for example -- the Obama Romney election.
You're are gonna find that.
One candidate -- gets much higher rankings and the other in this past election it happened to be Obama -- very high Google rankings that consistently.
And we also know that Google has supported.
One candidate over another in this last election they gave at least 800000 dollars to Obama only 32000 dollars to Romney.
So we know that search engine company sometimes they do favor certain candidates.
And you can see much higher rankings.
Usually for the favored candidate now whether.
They're doing and to live really are not the only way to know that is -- whistle blower.
Comes forward from the company says yes we are really.
Explain exactly and I have a minute here but -- -- that is because -- now and after this week we think that we can find out anything you hit it through through data collection so why is it difficult to find out.
If the search engine is somehow.
Manipulating the searches.
The problem is that they will always claim that that this is happening organically.
But again -- near research shows that all they have to do is tweak those rankings are very very slightly.
And they can push undecided voters one way -- the there.
Very very dramatically.
Do you think unless all of -- really scary stuff -- -- again this can be done.
Without anyone realizing that they're being manipulated.
We discover that and Eric's parents third -- we did not a single subject.
Knew that he -- she was being manipulated even that we pushed the votes he immediately anyone direct it.
-- the consumer's responsibility that the consumer actually just looked at the -- is -- -- actually do any reading.
And so it comes to the consumer or the voter.
To actually do our research but if they're relying on search -- on with their own fault because their editing themselves from other information.
But that's happening more and more in other words that's the -- we're getting information about virtually everything and I think.
That's 60% of our subject said that in fact they hit dirty used.
Search engines to get information about political candidates and that's the trend there's no stopping that trend so this is this is actually a cause for concern.
It's it's -- we got that no comment from Google we invited them on now we welcome them says this conversation has other search engines as well it's very interesting topic and and your research really stands alone Robertson thank you so much for the time today we appreciate it very much.
Thank you --
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