Google News optimisation and how SEO can affect public opinion through news search.
In July 2005, whilst working for NGO openDemocracy, I was interviewed on the BBC Radio World Service about the Google News algorithm and how it could be manipulated to influence public opinion.
A discussion which echoes still today.
Whilst Google News had launched in BETA since September 2002, it only became officially active in January 2006. By the middle of that year Google already started to influence news consumption and distribution severely, as the popularity of any article was depending on the time Google News will feature it at the top of its results for a current topic.
The BBC wanted to know how easy it was to manipulate the algorithm to push certain news pieces that potentially had an agenda. They had a series of questions about prioritisation and what Google considered a valid press source back then.
Looking back the discussion had great similarities with the recent US Elections Facebook scandal on the spread of “fake news”, which are editorial pieces that make use of the Facebook algorithm to promote political agendas.