WHY You Need To Learn To Search The Internet
Because news isn’t what it should be, we’ve got to seek out real news and information ourselves. As Dr. King said “First, we are challenged to develop a world perspective. No individual can live alone, no nation can live alone, and anyone who feels that he can live alone is sleeping through a revolution.” 1
Those of us lucky enough to have access to the internet, either through a computer or a smart phone – and in 2015, that’s still only 43 percent of the world’s population2 – have a virtual library of information and different viewpoints at their fingertips. But how can the lucky 43 percent of us find the information and differing viewpoints we’re looking for on the internet?
Searching The Internet
To search the internet, you have to use what they call a “search engine”. The dominant search engine in the United States, in Europe and in other countries, but not Russia or China3, is Google.
So you head over to Google’s search page: www.Google.com4, or to another search engine, to find what you’re looking for, by entering words to search for in their search box. But there are many search engine tips which can help you more easily find what you’re looking for, and find it faster, which you need to learn about – even while Google has slowly been taking this capability away from us, as you’ll soon see.
Tips & Shortcuts To Find What You Want Faster on the Internet
Searching for Phrases or Quotes
Let’s say you read or heard an interesting quote or part of a speech and want to read the whole thing. If you type the phrase you heard between quotes into Google, you used to be able to find what you’re looking for at the top of your search results because putting the phrase in quotes used to ‘glue’ those words together, with your results showing only web pages where those words are ‘glued’ together. I’m using the past tense because the quality of Google search results has truly deteriorated – more about that in a second – but sometimes using quotation marks will still get you what you want, like it will in the example I’m about to use: I typed into Google a part of the Dr. King speech I referenced above – with quotation marks at the beginning and at the end of the phrase, like this:
“First, we are challenged to develop a world perspective”
and the first Google search result is to this website’s Dr. King’s Challenge, and the second result is to the full speech by Dr. King. In this example, typing a part of something between quotes quickly got us the full text of this something. In other examples, however, it won’t work, because Google has switched from giving its users exactly what the user says it wants, with what Google thinks you really want, or rather with what Google wants you to have instead. More on that in a minute, but note that to get more accurate results when searching for a phrase where you want the words to stay glued together, you should now also consider first adding to your search query before the phrase the word “intext” followed by a colon (:), and immediately after the colon without even adding a space, your phrase in quotes, like this:
intext:“First, we are challenged to develop a world perspective”
The “intext:” command is supposed to tell Google that you want the phrase to appear ‘as is’ in the text of webpages. However, sometimes Google will ignore and override that command as well, so currently the best, but still not foolproof method, is to use Google’s “verbatim” tool when looking for results containing an exact quote.5
Rather than the formerly easy tip of simply putting quotes around your phrase into Google to use the verbatim tool, you must now go through the following three-click process:
To use Google’s verbatim tool, perform your search by typing in the search box as normal with your phrase in quotes and hitting the enter key to reach the search results page. Then, underneath the main search bar on the right-hand side find the “Search tools” button. Click it, look for the drop-down menu titled “All results,” and choose “Verbatim” from the list. And again, unfortunately, Google can ignore this verbatim command too! (see Why can’t I do a truly “verbatim” search anymore? https://productforums.Google.com/forum/#!topic/websearch/QmM99GhW1VU), but this is the best we’ve currently got.
Get Recent Webpages on a Topic, or Webpages Written During a Specific Time Frame
Another helpful tip, in addition to searching for words ‘glued’ together, is to know that you can filter your search results by date, in effect telling Google you want search results only from web pages written or edited during a specific time frame you indicate. If you’re searching the internet for other people’s opinions about something that happened recently for example, you’d want to see at the top of your search results web pages written or edited only recently. Previously, Google made it easy for everyone to know that limiting their search results by date was possible because it was a visible choice on the left hand column of the Google page. Now, Google has hidden this option and made it a cumbersome 3 click process. To restrict your search results by date, at the time this article is being written, you must first conduct your search, and then at the results page, you must click on the “Search tools” menu, for another menu to display, on which you then need to click on the “any time” menu, to get the following date range choices: “past hour”, “past 24 hours”, “past week”, “past month”, “past year”, and “custom range” (where you can input a starting and ending date).
Searching Blogs and Discussion Groups on Google For Less Commercial Results
To get results of your search from only internet blogs or discussion groups, helpful if you want to find less corporate and commercial, and more individually written results,6use these two links while they still work: http://www.Google.com/search?tbm=blg and https://groups.Google.com. There’s now, however, no way to search groups by date. See “Never Trust a Corporation to Do a Library’s Job” at https://medium.com/message/never-trust-a-corporation-to-do-a-librarys-job-f58db4673351; “Google Drops Search Filters; Including Discussions Filter”: http://www.seroundtable.com/Google-search-filters-gone-17993.html and “Google Kills Blogsearch – But Here’s How You Can Force Google to Display It”: http://www.netforlawyers.com/content/Google-kills-blog-search-engine-109.
Other Internet Search Tips
Internet links that are bad, no longer work or give off error messages that its content is “not found” – There’s still hope to see what used to exist at bad internet links. Copy the bad link into the internet archive where older pages may have been saved before they were deleted or went bad. Go to http://archive.org and copy the bad link into their “Way Back Machine”. Hopefully, you’ll get lucky and still be able to read the page you’re interested in. And check out all the other many resources available at the Internet Archive!
There are many other tips to aid in your internet searching that you can find, see for example, http://captaintime.com/internet-search-tips/; http://www.gottabemobile.com/2015/02/15/google-search-tips-tricks/; http://www.shakeuplearning.com/blog/the-golden-treasures-of-google-part-3-search; but comprehensive and current guides to searching the internet with Google are impossible to find. Google keeps diminishing its important search features 7, and burying them so they are harder to find so frequently, that it seems internet search guides can’t keep up, not even Google’s. For example, Google’s own ‘Power Searching with Google Quick Reference Guide’ (link to http://www.powersearchingwithGoogle.com/assets/misc/AdvancedPowerSearchingQuickReference.pdf ), refers to the Google search page’s left panel, where you can filter your results into different categories, like asking Google to show only results gathered from internet blogs and internet discussion groups, which would be helpful if you wanted to find less corporate and commercial, and more individually written results8, however that formerly very visible left panel has been eliminated by Google. The very visible left panel was also the way you used to be able to filter your search results by date. Now, however, Google has either hidden those ways to filter your search results underneath various layers of menus which appear across the Google search results page, or, as we’ll see in a moment, removed their links to certain search features on their way to killing them off completely.
For advanced internet search tips,
***And to keep up with the latest on internet searching to get new tips as they are found, I highly recommend subscribing to Gwen Harris’ free short daily email blog posts called the “Web Search Guide”, link below. The internet and how to search it keeps changing, so you’ve got to keep up and this is a very easy way to do so. Thank you Gwen!
http://www.websearchguide.ca/ : “Welcome to this site about tools and strategies for searching the Web. It is a . . . site . . . . where I record news items and developments related to search engines, search technology, browser aids, desktop tools, academic or scholarly resources – and anything else that will help the novice searcher become better, and the experienced searcher to stay up to date.”
HUMANITY’S ACCESS TO KNOWLEDGE AND INFORMATION IS IMPAIRED – It’s All In the Hands of Corporation Google Which Secretly Controls & Hinders Our Ability to Access It
Unless someone provides you with a direct internet link to a webpage of interest, the only way to find information on the vast wide world web, is to use a search engine, like the dominant one, Google, to find it. Note, however, that Google never makes public how they come up with the search results they provide. They use secret formulas, called “algorithms”9 which they change daily, and also secretly. See this May 19, 2015 report for example: “[T]here were changes to [Google’s] core ranking algorithm in terms of how it processes quality signals . . . Google wouldn’t provide specifics about how quality is now assessed.” Source: The Quality Update: Google Confirms Changing How Quality Is Assessed, Resulting In Rankings Shake-Up
Address : http://searchengineland.com/the-quality-update-google-confirms-changing-how-quality-is-assessed-resulting-in-rankings-shake-up-221118 and see the links I’ve provided about Google’s secret algorithms in the above footnote too.
Think about that secrecy for a second. With all the information that’s out there on the internet, Google decides what you see in response to your search terms, and what you don’t, or what you’ll only find if you go to the 20th result page, rather than the 1st page of results. They’re the gatekeeper of the whole internet! A corporation that does not reveal how it produces its search results! Humanity can be easily kept in the dark with its access to important information and knowledge impaired.
“The need for search has existed at least since the 80s and . . . we are to blame for not having collectively put the public pressure on that … and it could all have been quite cheaply publicly funded and it would be publicly accessible. But we didn’t do this. So along comes a private firm that’s doing it. So we . . . have passed it to this private corporation, which seemed a very tiny, little start-up and now is, arguably one of the most important institutions on the planet.” http://www.academia.edu/953703/Algorithmic_Ideology._How_Capitalist_Society_Shapes_Search_Engines
Search firms, largely trusted by the public, reveal little about how their searches work. Hinman chides that ‘[n]ever before will so few have controlled so much with so little public oversight or regulation’ (2008: 74).
Search engines are often seen as impersonal, given their largely automated operations. However, editorial judgment is inevitable. Ranking and weighting criteria are built into search algorithms. Google’s PageRank uses a popularity metric, treating inbound links to a website as popularity votes, and votes from more popular sites are weighted more than the lesser known ones. Such a metric favors majority over quality (Cho et al., 2005), often giving preference to those with financial power (Introna and Nissenbaum, 2000). Its limitation is noted by the Google founders themselves: ‘We expect that advertising funded search engines will be inherently biased towards the advertisers and away from the needs of the consumers’ (Brin and Page, 1998). http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2027436
“Google’s technology thus had an enormous influence on virtually all online discourse and communication, since its results were shaping what the Web would consist of for the vast majority of Internet users. Its dominance is of great political, social, and economic import, whether one is searching for information about the invasion of Iraq or looking to purchase a digital camera. As Jonathan Zittrain of the Harvard Law School explains, Google had quickly become the “the traffic cop at the main intersection of the information society.” . . . For instance, if users find websites primarily through search engines (they do), if Google handles the vast majority of these search queries (it does), and if the use of PageRank does result in popular, mainstream opinions dominating the search results, then Google’s monopoly could make it considerably difficult for ‘ordinary’ sites to be seen by a significant population of Web users.”
“Recently, Edelman (2011) found instances of Google’s search results bias across search engines, searches and over time”
“We may see Google as a savior, but it rules like Caesar. The mythology of the Web leads us to assume that it is a wild, ungovernable, and thus ungoverned realm. This could not be further from the truth. There was a power vacuum in the Web not so long ago, but we have invited Google to fill it. Overwhelmingly, we now allow Google to determine what is important, relevant, and true on the Web and in the world. We trust and believe that Google acts in our best interest. But we have surrendered control over the values, methods, and processes that make sense of our information ecosystem. . . we should influence – even regulate – search systems actively and intentionally, and thus take responsibility for how the Web delivers knowledge. We must build the sort of online ecosystem that can benefit the whole world over the long term, not one that serves the short-term interests of one powerful company” From the book: The Googlization of Everything: (And Why We Should Worry).
“[W]e would predict that information seekers on the Web, whose experiences are mediated through search engines, are most likely to find popular, large, sites whose designers have enough technical savvy to succeed in the ranking game, and especially those sites whose proprietors are able to pay for various means of improving their site’s positioning. Seekers are less likely to find less popular, smaller, sites, including those that are not supported by knowledgeable professionals. When a search does yield these sites, they are likely to have lower prominence in rankings . . .
The power, therefore, that search engines wield in their capacity to highlight and emphasize certain Web sites, while making others, essentially, disappear, is considerable. If search engines systematically highlight Web sites with popular appeal and mainstream commercial purpose, as well as Web sites backed by entrenched economic powers, they amplify these presences on the Web at the expense of others. Many of the neglected venues and sources of information, suffering from lack of traffic, perhaps actually disappear, further narrowing the options to Web participants. . . .
If trends in the design and function of search engines leads to a narrowing of options on the Web—an actual narrowing or a narrowing in what can be located, the Web as a public good of the particular kind that many envisioned is undermined. The ideal Web serves all people, not just some, not merely those in the mainstream. It is precisely the inclusivity and breadth that energized many to think that this technology would mean not just “business as usual” in the electronic realm, not merely a new tool for entrenched views and powers. The ideal Web would extend the possibilities for association, would facilitate access to obscure sources of information, would give voice to many of the typically unheard, and would preserve intensive and broadly inclusive interactivity. . . .
If access to the Web is understood as access by seekers to all of these resources, then the outcome of biased search engines amounts to a shrinking of access to the web. This perspective, however, does not represent all that is at stake. At stake is access to the Web in the shape of those, in addition, who would like to be found, to be seen and heard . . . The public good of the Web lies not merely in its functioning as a repository for seekers to find things, but as a forum for those with something (goods, services, viewpoints, political activism, etc.) to offer. The cost of a biased search-and-retrieval mechanism may even be greater for Web site owners wishing to be found—the senders. . .
If search mechanisms systematically narrow the scope of what seekers may find and what sites may be found, they will diminish the overall value of the Web as a public forum, as well as a broadly inclusive source of information. . .
We have claimed that search-engine design is not only a technical matter but also a political one. Search engines are important because they provide essential access to the Web both to those with something to say and offer as well as to those wishing to hear and find. Our concern is with the evident tendency of many of the leading search engines to give prominence to popular, wealthy, and powerful sites at the expense of others. This they do through the technical mechanisms of crawling, indexing, and ranking algorithms, as well as through human-mediated trading of prominence for a fee. As long as this tendency continues, we expect these political effects will become more acute as the Web expands.”
“Search filtering has a particularly perverse effect on public discourse and memory, as search engines are molded to reproduce prevailing ideologies. Given search engines’ centrality in the information universe, when public discourse is removed at the whim of search firms or the state’s will, particular conversations or events, for many, practically did not happen. Blocking by search algorithm or removal of content from computer memory for censorship purposes is more than a ‘rewrite’ of the past (Hellsten et al., 2006): it is tantamount to virtual political disappearance. The loss of search memory contributes to public amnesia in such a way that makes search engines part of the new repertoire of the state’s disciplinary mechanisms (Foucault, 1980). . .
As this study shows, not only can search engines be architecturally altered to reproduce dominant political values, different search engines also offer different results and different realities. . . .
user trust in search engines tends to turn algorithmically generated reality into truth in its own right. The programmable nature of search engines makes it possible for political authorities, search firms and other powerful interest groups to shape and control social realities via search.” http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2027436
Not only are web search results biased, so too are the advertisements shown by search engines along with its regular results. Here’s an example of same with Google:
Google, however, has been wielding its power as a private speech regulator to censor a considerable amount of valuable expression, including political speech that would fall within the core of the First Amendment’s protection. Adhering to its policy of refusing to accept sponsored links that “advocate against any individual, group, or organization,”, Google has refused to host a range of politically-charged, religious, and critical social commentary in the form of advertisements themselves, as well as the websites to which these advertisements link. Google has also required prospective advertisers to alter the content within their sponsored links-as well as within their websites-as a condition for Google’s hosting such content. . .
[W]hen Unknown News sought to advertise anti-Iraq-war bumper stickers on Google’s Sponsored Links with an ad headlined “Who Would Jesus Bomb?,” Google censored the ad, claiming that the ad was in violation of its policy against “sites that promote hate, violence, racial intolerance, or advocate against any individual, group, or organization.” Unknown News, Google Refuses Our Ad, at http://www.unknownnews.net/google.html (last visited Apr. 25, 2005). When Unknown News responded to Google’s censorship decision by explaining that it merely “advocate[s] against killing thousands of Iraqis,” Google explained that it would reinstate the ad only if the website was edited “to show both sides of the argument” over attacking Iraq.
And Not Only Are Google Web Results, And Google Advertisements Biased, So Is Google News, Which Shows You Only Those News Sources It Deems Fit:
Google News discontinued listing stories from Inner City Press, a United Nations–focused media organization, after an Inner City Press staffer questioned Google on its failure to sign on to the human rights and anti-censorship principles of the Global Compact. When questioned by Inner City Press regarding this censorship, Google simply responded, “We periodically review news sources, particularly following user complaints, to ensure Google News offers a high quality experience for our users. When we reviewed your site we’ve found that we can no longer include it in Google News.” . . .
“In short, Google—as the dominant Internet search engine and news aggregator— enjoys and exercises substantial control over the content of news headlines presented via Google News and over search result links and sponsored links that appear on Google News’s and Google’s main search page.”
“these results suggest that search engines can be architecturally altered to serve political regimes, arbitrary in rendering social realities and biased toward self-interest.” http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2027436
So What Are Google’s Political Interests?
A Very Brief Introduction Into Google’s Evil Politics
First we’ll hear from Julian Assange, Editor & Co-Founder of Wikileaks, about this, and then we’ll hear from the chief Google players themselves:
“Google, which started out as an expression of independent Californian graduate student culture — a decent, humane and playful culture — has, as it encountered the big, bad world, thrown its lot in with traditional Washington power elements, from the State Department to the National Security Agency.” 10
“Assange’s 2014 book, When Google Met Wikileaks, “is built around painstaking research into the links that publicly implicate Google in the highest circles of the American state. He lays into characters like Jared Cohen, who in 2010 moved from the US State Department, where he had been senior adviser to secretaries of state Condoleezza Rice and Hillary Clinton, to head up the “think/do tank” Google Ideas.
Assange is especially critical of Eric Schmidt, who served as Google’s CEO from 2001 to 2011 and is now its executive chairman. Assange spent time with Schmidt in mid 2011 and describes him as part of the “Washington establishment nexus”. Now tacitly backing Hillary Clinton’s bid for the presidency, Schmidt pays regular visits to the White House and delivers “fireside chats” at the World Economic Forum in Davos. He likes the “pomp and ceremony of state visits across geopolitical fault lines”. Assange dubs him “Google’s foreign minister”, a “Henry Kissinger–like figure whose job it is to go out and meet with foreign leaders and their opponents and position Google in the world”.”
From John Keane’s 7/5/15 article, “Julian Assange on Google, surveillance and predatory capitalism”, about his interview with Assange where they discussed Assange’s When Google Met WikiLeaks book http://theconversation.com/julian-assange-on-google-surveillance-and-predatory-capitalism-43176
About those visits to the Whitehouse:
“Since Mr. Obama took office, employees of the Mountain View, Calif., company [Google] have visited the White House for meetings with senior officials about 230 times, or an average of roughly once a week, according to the visitor logs reviewed by the Journal.
Source: Google Makes Most of Close Ties to White House – Wall Street Journal, March 24, 2015 http://www.wsj.com/articles/google-makes-most-of-close-ties-to-white-house-1427242076
Assange on the book written by Google Chiefs Eric Schmit and Jared Cohen entitled The New Digital Age: Reshaping the Future of People, Nations and Business:
“The New Digital Age” is a startlingly clear and provocative blueprint for technocratic imperialism, from two of its leading witch doctors, Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen, who construct a new idiom for United States global power in the 21st century. This idiom reflects the ever closer union between the State Department and Silicon Valley, as personified by Mr. Schmidt, the executive chairman of Google, and Mr. Cohen, a former adviser to Condoleezza Rice and Hillary Clinton who is now director of Google Ideas. . . They decided the tech industry could be a powerful agent of American foreign policy. . . It is not surprising that a respectable cast of the world’s most famous warmongers has been trotted out to give its stamp of approval to this enticement to Western soft power. The [book’s] acknowledgments give pride of place to Henry Kissinger, who along with Tony Blair and the former C.I.A. director Michael Hayden provided advance praise for the book. . . .
Source: The Banality of ‘Don’t Be Evil’ by Julian Assange – The New York Times :
-From Statfor (a global intelligence firm) cables which Wikileaks released:
Google is getting WH [White House] and State Dept support and
air cover. In reality they are doing things the CIA cannot do . . .
[Cohen] is going to get himself kidnapped or killed. Might be the
best thing to happen to expose Google’s covert role in foaming
up-risings, to be blunt. The US Gov’t can then disavow knowledge
and Google is left holding the shit-bag.
14 March 2012, www.archive.today/sjxuG
Now Back to Assange’s review of the Google chiefs, Jared Cohen & Eric Schmidt’s book:
“The authors fantasize about the future of “well resourced” revolutionary groups. A new “crop of consultants” will “use data to build and fine-tune a political figure.” “His” speeches (the future isn’t all that different) and writing will be fed “through complex feature-extraction and trend-analysis software suites” while “mapping his brain function,” and other “sophisticated diagnostics” will be used to “assess the weak parts of his political repertoire.”
The Banality of ‘Don’t Be Evil’ by Julian Assange – The New York Times : http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/02/opinion/sunday/the-banality-of-Googles-dont-be-evil.html?pagewanted=all
So what is all this about Google chiefs’ “covert role in foaming up-risings” and Google helping the U.S. to resource “revolutionary groups”? Now stay with me, if this is new to you. As I wrote about previously on my website 11, Google and other corporations work hand in hand with the U.S. State Department to effect “regime change” in countries and to ensure anti-capitalist movements don’t get off the ground or stay ‘anti-capitalist’. First a little background:
“From Washington’s standpoint, regime replacement no longer requires the installation of authoritarian military rulers, as in the heyday of US imperialism. Regime change can be implemented by co-opting political parties, financing civil society groups, infiltrating the protest movement, and by manipulating national elections.12
The ultimate objective is to sustain the interests of foreign powers and to uphold the “Washington consensus” of the IMF/World Bank economic agenda that has served to impoverish millions throughout the Arab World and beyond. 13
Moreover, Western powers have used “Political Islam” –including the Muslim Brotherhood and Al Qaeda-affiliated groups– to pursue their hegemonic objectives. Covert operations are launched to weaken the secular state, foment sectarian violence and create social divisions throughout the Arab World.”14
Google, The U.S. State Department, and other corporations including the mass media, are all in the mix of what they call their “counter-radicalization” mission – where they pretend that violence is the radicalization they want to counter, whereas it’s really anti-capitalist radicalism they want to stop.
In former U.S. State Dept./Now Director of Google Ideas, Jared Cohen’s own words, which I admit take my breath away, they all need to get together and form initiatives to address this:
“With more than 50 percent of the world’s population under the age of thirty and the vast majority of those characterized as “at risk” either socially, economically, or both, an oversupply exists of young people susceptible to recruitment by the extremist religious or ideological group closest to them in identity or proximity. . .
Google Ideas and the Council on Foreign Relations aim to initiate a global conversation on how best to prevent young people from becoming radicalized and how to de-radicalize others . . . In addition to radicalization, Google Ideas is also focused on the role technology plays in fledgling democracies and fragile states.”
See http://www.thinktankedblog.com/think-tanked/2011/03/cfr-jared-cohen-google-ideas-partner-counter-radicalization.html and http://blogs.cfr.org/lindsay/2011/03/21/guest-post-google-ideas-and-council-on-foreign-relations-team-up-on-counter-radicalization/ (emphasis supplied)
Damn that “oversupply” of young poor people!!! Let’s use our resources to keep them in line and make sure they don’t effectively challenge the status quo and create a political system which uses the resources of society for all of humanity, to meet humanities needs and make poverty a thing of the past. These politics of Google are evil.
GOOGLE HINDERS OUR ABILITY TO SEARCH FOR INFORMATION AND GOOGLE SEARCH IS GOING TO CONTINUE TO GET WORSE
So, Google has all this power, the gatekeeper to all of humanity’s information, and an evil political agenda, and they’ve already made searching it much more difficult. I’ve noticed in my own web searching when looking up things for this website, that the relevancy of search results at Google has truly declined in recent years, making searching the internet extremely frustrating. You know somebody must have written about something you’re interested in, that must be out there somewhere on the net, but why is it taking so long to find it, if at all, and what relevant stuff am I no longer finding that is out there?
“Google is going to continue to downgrade the search functionality of its search engine. We’ve seen this over the past few years, and I have no reason to think that anything is going to change. http://philbradley.typepad.com/phil_bradleys_weblog/2014/01/14-predictions-for-2014.html
“I remember when Google was the tool of choice for esoteric searches, the best tool with which to expose the darkest, most obscure – yet useful – corners of the web. Google was, in the past, a thoroughly excellent search tool. Today’s Google seems to go out of its way to hide the same results it went out of its way to expose 10 years ago. Even in so-called verbatim mode and with double quotes around a whole sentence I get completely irrelevant results containing only a single word from the search string. Some searches which would have been a piece of cake on Google a decade ago are seemingly impossible now. This is a terrible state of affairs, and no one among Google’s staff seems at all bothered with it, at least not publicly.” https://productforums.Google.com/forum/#!topic/websearch/QmM99GhW1VU
“In point of fact, back in the 1990s, when I switched to using Google, I did so largely on the basis that it accepted operands that allowed for advanced control over searches, such as “AND” and “OR.” Back then, basically all searches happened literally, so getting results for stuff I didn’t search for wasn’t an issue. Today, however, hardly a day goes by where I must argue at length with Google to get it to search for what I actually typed in, rather than what it has decided I must have really meant. In almost every case, I’m forced to concede defeat and sift through many, many pages of irrelevant search results, in hopes of finding a single genuine “hit” that I can use.” Why can’t I do a truly “verbatim” search anymore?” – Google Product Forums Address : https://productforums.Google.com/forum/#!topic/websearch/QmM99GhW1VU
“I search for something and the first few pages don’t even have all my search terms.
No warning, no clue. Then when someone asks for help here in the (Google) forums some employee, acting like a reverse troll, espouses how much better this new way is than the old. When you say that the old way was why you switched in the first place, you are told to give it a try, you’ll see its better. I ask this, does Google even care what we want. Google used to be a company that valued its users.What has happened?
If this were the old Google there would be a way to permanently leave verbatim on. . .
But Google is not a company for people who know what they want anymore.
If it were, then a way to define the search in a query …would exist, the geek engineers who founded it wouldn’t have had it any other way. . . . If there were an alternative, I would use it. I want a useful search engine back.” https://productforums.Google.com/forum/#!topic/websearch/QmM99GhW1VU
“Count me among the group that is really dissatisfied with the changes to literal searching. It has really reduced the usefulness of Google for me, and I would switch in a heartbeat if someone can provide an alternative that provides the option to handle things the way Google used to.” https://productforums.Google.com/forum/#!topic/websearch/QmM99GhW1VU
“[B]y providing direct answers, Google is offering up results as factual information when there’s an obvious debate over what’s right or wrong.” Source: When Google Gets It Wrong: Direct Answers With Debatable, Incorrect & Weird Content
Address : http://searchengineland.com/when-google-gets-it-wrong-direct-answers-with-debatable-incorrect-weird-content-223073
“The mistake here, of course, is thinking that Google’s users are people doing searches. Google’s users are advertisers who have an interest in maximum exposure, even when that means loss of targeting. Search is now spam and has been for some time, and that deprives it of its power. Yet, the infrastructural requirements for indexing and service present a nearly insurmountable barrier to competition in a pragmatic sense.” https://productforums.Google.com/forum/#!topic/websearch/QmM99GhW1VU
ALTERNATIVES TO GOOGLE?
While there are alternatives to Google, like Microsoft’s Bing, and for those who want to use a search engine that doesn’t invade their privacy or personalize results in a “filter bubble” (more on that later) like http://www.DuckDuckGo, these alternatives don’t properly sort your search results by date, a very important search engine feature, and so searchers are still left with having to use Google. “Bing’s time filter comes up a bit short of Google’s in a couple regards” http://searchengineland.com/bing-adds-search-filter-to-sort-results-by-time-period-153347. On Duck-Duck-Go, its users have been begging in vain for years for a date filtering search method so they could switch from Google : See https://duck.co/forum/thread/1678/filter-search-results-by-date and Why I love DuckDuckGo–but don’t use it: https://duck.co/forum/thread/1902/why-i-love-duckduckgo-but-don-t-use-it, and Duck-Duck-Go admits this failure keeps people from using its services in place of Google: “[M]any users would never come back to Google if there is accurate sort by date feature implemented, however…we’d like to do a lot more with dates, but don’t have great data for them yet. https://duck.co/help/features/dates, posted by TV: https://duck.co/user/TV; “It’s an oft-requested feature, but not currently possible to implement.”: https://duck.co/forum/thread/5075/time-range-feature-for-search-results To avoid the “filter bubble” (discussed later) though, you need to use http://www.duckduckgo.com.
*Here’s an excerpt from a very positive review of Russia’s most popular search engine -which you can search in English:
“We’ve seen in recent months – in fact in recent years – that Google really isn’t interested in the search process. Rather than developing and improving their offering they have in fact been reducing it. . . It’s clear that Google doesn’t want us to search, it wants to know best, and give us exactly what IT thinks we need, irrespective of our own search criteria. The result is that Google has brought itself back in line with other search engines, and there are fewer reasons to consider using it above and beyond the other engines out there . . . Yandex is a great search engine. It’s very powerful, and it really does match or exceed Google in almost every area. If you’re an advanced or specialist searcher, Yandex really does deserve your attention. The elephant in the room with it is of course the fact that it’s Russian. However, I don’t see why this should detract – in fact if anything it may give a slightly different perspective on the results that you get. However, don’t take my word for it – try Yandex out for yourself!”
“A review of Yandex”. Address : http://www.philb.com/yandexreview.html
AND NOW SOME OTHER WARNINGS ABOUT YOUR INTERNET SEARCHING
THE FILTER BUBBLE:
Here are excerpts from a question and answer session on Amazon with the author of the Book “The Filter Bubble: How the New Personalized Web Is Changing What We Read and How We Think”: http://www.amazon.com/The-Filter-Bubble-Personalized-Changing/dp/0143121235
Q: What is a “Filter Bubble”?
A: We’re used to thinking of the Internet like an enormous library, with services like Google providing a universal map. But that’s no longer really the case. Sites from Google and Facebook to Yahoo News and the New York Times are now increasingly personalized – based on your web history, they filter information to show you the stuff they think you want to see. That can be very different from what everyone else sees – or from what we need to see.
Your filter bubble is this unique, personal universe of information created just for you by this array of personalizing filters. It’s invisible and it’s becoming more and more difficult to escape.
Q: Which companies or Websites are personalizing like this?
A: In one form or another, nearly every major website on the Internet is flirting with personalization. But the one that surprises people most is Google. If you and I Google the same thing at the same time, we may get very different results. Google tracks hundreds of “signals” about each of us – what kind of computer we’re on, what we’ve searched for in the past, even how long it takes us to decide what to click on – and uses it to customize our results. When the result is that our favorite pizza parlor shows up first when we Google pizza, it’s useful. But when the result is that we only see the information that is aligned with our religious or social or political beliefs, it’s difficult to maintain perspective. . . .
But one of the creepy things about the filter bubble is that we’re not really doing the selecting. . . You don’t know who they think you are or on what basis they’re showing you what they’re showing. And as a result, you don’t really have any sense of what’s getting edited out – or, in fact, that things are being edited out at all.
“-So Facebook isn’t the only place that’s doing this kind of invisible, algorithmic editing of the Web. Google’s doing it too. If I search for something, and you search for something, even right now at the very same time, we may get very different search results. Even if you’re logged out, one engineer told me, there are 57 signals that Google looks at — everything from what kind of computer you’re on to what kind of browser you’re using to where you’re located — that it uses to personally tailor your query results. Think about it for a second: there is no standard Google anymore. And you know, the funny thing about this is that it’s hard to see. You can’t see how different your search results are from anyone else’s.”
Q: What is the Internet hiding from me?
A: As Google engineer Jonathan McPhie explained to me, it’s different for every person – and in fact, even Google doesn’t totally know how it plays out on an individual level. At an aggregate level, they can see that people are clicking more. But they can’t predict how each individual’s information environment is altered.
In general, the things that are most likely to get edited out are the things you’re least likely to click on. Sometimes, this can be a real service – if you never read articles about sports, why should a newspaper put a football story on your front page? But apply the same logic to, say, stories about foreign policy, and a problem starts to emerge. Some things, like homelessness or genocide, aren’t highly clickable but are highly important.
Q: What are the business leaders at Google and Facebook and Yahoo saying about their responsibilities?
A: To be honest, they’re frustratingly coy. They tend to frame the trend in the passive tense: Google’s Eric Schmidt recently said “It will be very hard for people to watch or consume something that has not in some sense been tailored for them,” rather than “Google is making it very hard…” Mark Zuckerberg perfectly summed up the tension in personalization when he said “A squirrel dying in your front yard may be more relevant to your interests right now than people dying in Africa.” But he refuses to engage with what that means at a societal level – especially for the people in Africa. http://www.amazon.com/The-Filter-Bubble-Personalized-Changing/dp/0143121235
“People still thought that everybody sees the same things through Google and everyone sees all of the posts on Facebook and the Facebook news feed. When you can demonstrate how inaccurate that is, it’s really surprising. It’s sort of like being told that your glasses edit out certain people as you’re walking down the street. Which maybe someday Google Glass will do.”
Source: Who rules the Internet? The answer might surprise you | ideas.ted.com
Address : http://ideas.ted.com/2014/02/05/eli-pariser-on-upworthy-and-the-filter-bubble/
“So it’s not just Google and Facebook either. This is something that’s sweeping the Web. There are a whole host of companies that are doing this kind of personalization. Yahoo News, the biggest news site on the Internet, is now personalized — different people get different things. Huffington Post, the Washington Post, the New York Times — all flirting with personalization in various ways. . . we really need the Internet to be that thing that we all dreamed of it being. We need it to connect us all together. We need it to introduce us to new ideas and new people and different perspectives. And it’s not going to do that if it leaves us all isolated in a Web of one.”
Eli Pariser: Beware online “filter bubbles” | Talk Video | TED.com
HOW TO AVOID THE FILTER BUBBLE:
All of the following tips to avoid the filter bubble were copied from slides available for a short time at http://www.rba.co.uk/as/ from Karen Blakeman’s 4/22/15 presentation entitled “New Google, New Challenges”:
Quickest Way To “Un-Personalise”Search – Private Browsing
It’s not search engine specific, but built into the browser you use to search the internet, so use the commands below for the web browser you use:
Chrome – New Incognito window Ctrl+Shift+N
Internet Explorer Ctrl+Shift+P
These tips won’t remove country personalisation, however.
A Search Engine Which Does Not Track, Does Not Personalize:
DuckDuckGo – http://duckduckgo.com/ – Their results are a compilation of about 50 sources including Wikipedia, Wolfram Alpha, Bing, and its own Web crawler DuckDuckBot. “In partnership with Yandex”
For Advanced DuckDuckGo search commands see http://help.duckduckgo.com/customer/portal/articles/300304
See also DuckDuckGo – silly name but a neat little search tool http://www.rba.co.uk/wordpress/2011/11/07/duckduckgo-silly-name-but-a-neat-little-search-tool
GOOGLE TO DETERMINE WHAT’S TRUE & WHAT’S NOT TRUE?
Still, the fact that a search engine could effectively evaluate truth, and that Google is actively contemplating that technology, should boggle the brain. After all, truth is a slippery, malleable thing — and grappling with it has traditionally been an exclusively human domain.
“Google has developed a technology to tell whether ‘facts’ on the Internet are true” – The Washington Post
Address : http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-intersect/wp/2015/03/02/google-has-developed-a-technology-to-tell-whether-facts-on-the-internet-are-true/
Google is considering putting itself in charge of online truth, in order to assist users in an age of information overload. The web giant would rank search results based on each site’s ‘truth score’ instead of its popularity level.
“In charge of truth? Google considers ranking sites on facts, not popularity” — RT News
Address : http://rt.com/news/236681-google-truth-algorithm-search/
[T]he paper presented a method for adapting algorithms such that they would generate a “Knowledge-Based Trust” score for every page. To do this, the algorithm would pick out statements and compare them with Google’s Knowledge Vault, a database of facts. It would also attempt to assess the trustworthiness of the source—for example, a reputable news site versus a newly created WordPress blog. . .
The Google method is still in development, but the researchers say it shows “promise” and “improvement.”
“Google researchers try search ranking based on factual accuracy instead of links.”
Address : http://www.slate.com/blogs/future_tense/2015/03/02/google_researchers_try_search_ranking_based_on_factual_accuracy_instead.html
BEWARE ALSO OF INTERNET SERVICE PROVIDERS:
Internet freedom is being curtailed in many ways, and this post only discussed the Google search engine’s role in this. Not addressed here, but still of course significant are other entities curtailing it, such as internet service providers:
“Internet speech conduits—such as broadband service providers—are now responsible for facilitating a vast amount of expression. Unlike telephone companies or the postal service—which have long been legally required not to discriminate against the content they are charged with carrying—these Internet speech conduits are not similarly regulated. While many individuals may be content to entrust to the market their ability to communicate, recent developments suggest that such trust is misplaced and may very well lead to the “end of the Internet as we know it.” Here’s an example “Comcast blocked emails from AfterDowningStreet, an organization that sought to lobby Congress to impeach the president for his conduct in bringing about the war with Iraq”. Virtual Freedom : Net Neutrality and Free Speech in the Internet Age. Stanford, CA : Stanford Law Books, 2009. Entire book free download here:
AND MANY COUNTRIES ADOPTION OF INTERNET FILTERING SOFTWARE:
Countries around the world—democracies as well as dictatorships—have implemented nationwide filtering systems that are changing the shape of Internet freedom. In addition to usual suspects like China, liberal democracies such as the United Kingdom and Australia have taken steps toimplement nationwide Internet filtering regimes.
EVEN WHAT PEOPLE MAY TEXT EACH OTHER:
“Verizon steadfastly maintained that it enjoys the discretion to determine which text messages to facilitate and which to prohibit.”
APPS ARE KILLING THE WEB?
“The Web—that thin veneer of human-readable design on top of the machine babble that constitutes the Internet—is dying. And the way it’s dying has farther-reaching implications than almost anything else in technology today. Think about your mobile phone. All those little chiclets on your screen are apps, not websites, and they work in ways that are fundamentally different from the way the Web does. Mountains of data tell us that, in aggregate, we are spending time in apps that we once spent surfing the Web. We’re in love with apps, and they’ve taken over. On phones, 86% of our time is spent in apps, and just 14% is spent on the Web . . . App stores, which are shackled to particular operating systems and devices, are walled gardens where Apple, Google, Microsoft and Amazon get to set the rules. . . .Apple regularly bans apps that offend its politics, taste, or compete with its own software and services. . . Anyone could put up a Web page or launch a new service, and anyone could access it. . . But app stores don’t work like that.”
From The Web Is Dying; Apps Are Killing It – Wall Street Journal
Address : http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-web-is-dying-apps-are-killing-it-1416169934
Note, however, that the above is only looking at web users in the United States, not the rest of the world. See for example: “[I}n China, Russia and UK mobile Web is preferred to apps”
Source: Global mobile statistics 2013 Section E: Mobile apps, app stores, pricing and failure rates | mobiForge: http://mobiforge.com/research-analysis/global-mobile-statistics-2013-section-e-mobile-apps-app-stores-pricing-and-failure-rates#appusers
WHAT A SEARCH ENGINE SHOULD BE
WHO CAN HELP REMEDY THE ILLS DESCRIBED ABOVE?
Certainly NOT The U.S. Congress –
Congress sought to encourage ISPs and other owners of Internet speech forums to restrict expression, and access to expression, that the providers found undesirable. Accordingly, Section 230(c)(2) of the CDA provides: No provider … of an interactive computer service shall be held liable on account of any action voluntarily taken in good faith to restrict access to or availability of material that the provider … considers to be obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing, or otherwise objectionable, whether or not such material is constitutionally protected. 5 2 . . . In passing the Communications Decency Act of 1996 (CDA),47 Congress sought to remedy perceived ills caused by certain types of offensive Internet expression (primarily sexually-themed expression).
And certainly NOT the U.S. Courts:
In sum, courts have resoundingly concluded that private entities’ regulation of speech on the Internet does not constitute state action and that such private speech regulation is wholly immune from First Amendment scrutiny. Consistent with Congress’s intent (as embodied in Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act) to turn the reins of Internet speech regulation over to private entities, private Internet actors have been allowed to wield substantial control over Internet expression, wholly unchecked by the First Amendment.
The Death of the Public Forum in Cybersapce, Berkeley Technology Law Journal, March 2005,
As a first step we would demand full and truthful disclosure of the underlying rules (or algorithms) governing indexing, searching, and prioritizing, stated in a way that is meaningful to the majority of Web users.
Evidently, if we leave the task of charting the Web in the hands of commercial interests alone, we will merely mirror existing asymmetries of power in the very structure of the Web (McChesney, 1999).
Many have observed that for the Web to become a democratizing technology and a public good, we must first take the question of access seriously. We agree, but would define the question in broader terms. Access is not merely a computer and a network hookup, even when coupled with the skills and know-how that enable effective use. Rather, access implies a comprehensive mechanism for finding and being found. Thus our concern with the politics of search engines—a politics that at present seems to push the Web in a direction that favors special interests at the expense of marginalizing the general public.
“A Right to Reach an Audience: An Approach to Intermediary Bias on the Internet”
In the same way that news isn’t what is should be, compelling me to create this tiny little website, search engines aren’t what they should be for all the reasons expressed above. May you be inspired to solve this problem, so that all of humanity’s knowledge is readily accessible to all to take humanity out of the dark ages in all respects.
-  http://whatnewsshouldbe.org/?p=17 ↩
-  See this page with statistics on internet access: http://www.internetlivestats.com/internet-users/ and statistics on world population http://www.worldometers.info/world-population/, see also http://www.itu.int/net/pressoffice/press_releases/2015/17.aspx#.VWSF32Bjq-Q– so that means that BILLIONS of people still cannot access the ‘world wide’ web: 4.2 BILLION!
If you think, by the way, that world population figures are accurate, think again. They’re mostly guesses because the powers-that-be have still not seen fit to accurately measure how many people live and die, and from what causes. See my article on this topic here: http://www.whatnewsshouldbe.org/lies-weve-been-told/statistical-accuracy .
-  “Google’s search engine, with about 90 percent of the market in some European Union countries, is even more dominant in Europe than it is in the United States.” Source: E.U. Parliament Passes Measure to Break Up Google in Symbolic Vote – NYTimes.com
In Russia, the dominant search engine is Yandex, and in China, it is Baidu, http://returnonnow.com/internet-marketing-resources/2013-search-engine-market-share-by-country/ ↩
-  “You can go directly to Google.com by typing in http://Google.com into your web browser. That is supposed to take you to the main Google web site, which is designed to serve the United States plus the world in general. If you are outside the United States, you may prefer to go to the version of Google designed for your own country. You’ll find a list of country-specific versions of Google shown on this page.” Source: How To Use Google To Search
Address : http://searchengineland.com/guide/how-to-use-Google-to-search. NOTE BUT “The problem Google has faced with country-specific versions is that habits are hard to break. People were used to going to Google.com, and they kept doing that even when country-specific versions were introduced. To solve this, about 10 years ago, Google began redirecting people. For example, if you tried to reach Google.com from the UK, you’d get redirected to Google UK at Google.co.uk. If you really wanted, you could get back to Google.com. You could even make this your permanent choice. Google’s made that much harder now” Source: How The Myth Of Google Censorship Was Busted By The EU & Canada Address : http://marketingland.com/google-censorship-mythbusted-132106 ↩
-  See http://insidesearch.blogspot.com/2011/11/search-using-your-terms-verbatim.html
-  See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blog and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Discussion_group ↩
-  “Google thinks hard before removing your loved features but sometimes, even the features prominent Googlers want, also get on the chopping block.” Source: Google Search Designer Explains Why Some Features & Tools Get Axed Address : http://searchengineland.com/Google-search-designer-explains-features-tools-get-axed-198061 ;
“One by one Google strips itself of the features that made the Google search engine excellent for web search. This time it’s the reading level search filter . . . ” ; Karen Blakeman, a professional searcher, is one who feels the loss. She commented . . .that feature helped to separate the technical, serious articles from ‘consumer or retail focused pages’ – which I think we could call the trivial. She wonders, as do I, which of the few remaining advanced search features Google will drop next.” May 9, 2015: http://www.websearchguide.ca/google-removed-reading-level/.
-  See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blog and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Discussion_group ↩
-  Here are some links to articles about Google’s search algorithms generally, some of which hint at the mind boggling fact of a corporation having monopoly control over the access to all human information . . .
“For a typical query, there are thousands, if not millions, of webpages with helpful information. Algorithms are the computer processes and formulas that take your questions and turn them into answers. Today Google’s algorithms rely on more than 200 unique signals or “clues” that make it possible to guess what you might really be looking for. These signals include things like the terms on websites, the freshness of content, your region and Page Rank.” http://www.Google.com/insidesearch/howsearchworks/algorithms.html and see Google, Facebook, Amazon: algorithms will soon rule our lives so we’d better understand how they work, http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/technology/jamiebartlett/100012905/Google-facebook-amazon-algorithms-will-soon-rule-our-lives-so-wed-better-understand-how-they-work/; and The human process behind Google’s algorithm
Address : http://www.cnet.com/news/the-human-process-behind-Googles-algorithm/ How Google’s Algorithm Rules the Web, http://www.wired.com/2010/02/ff_Google_algorithm/all/ New York Times Editorial – The Google Algorithm: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/15/opinion/15thu3.html?_r=1&ref=opinion ↩
-  Source: The Banality of ‘Don’t Be Evil’ by Julian Assange – New York Times,
-  http://www.whatnewsshouldbe.org/lies-weve-been-told/kony-2012-and-the-creation-manipulation-of-protest-movements ↩
-  Countries are catching on to this and have recently been banning U.S. ‘civil society groups’ in their countries. See for example Why Do Some Foreign Countries Hate American NGOs So Much? ↩
-  For info about the IMF/World Bank economic agenda see this and this from my website. ↩
-  For a quick example of this, see discussion farther down this page:http://www.whatnewsshouldbe.org/lies-weve-been-told/kony-2012-and-the-creation-manipulation-of-protest-movements about the U.S. supporting a Muslim Brotherhood candidate for the Egyptian presidency. You know the old adage, “divide and conquer”, and religious fundamentalists in power is a very effective divider, among other things. ↩