As the 2014 midterm election approaches, those who are well read on their respective candidates will have little problems getting swayed by the media on which candidate they’d vote for. But the media isn’t the only one with the power to manipulate the 2014 election, candidates must also have a larger involvement in social media portrayals, and the amount of times that they appear high on search engine results.
Research on search engine results swaying the election outcomes was originally conducted in the U.S. last year. It has now been newly researched in India at the start of their 2014 elections and posted among India news sources today, May 13. Their results revealed similar findings to the U.S. study: On average, elections could be swayed by about 12 to 15 percent in favor of the candidate that appeared higher and more often in search results.
This does not merely include whether the results were positive or negative portrayals of the running candidates, simply just that the candidate’s names appeared more frequently — which for ‘undecided’ voters, increased name recall during voting. This increase is enough to completely dominate the results of a close race. And when counties (or states) are balanced between red and blue, this leaves a lot of opportunity for candidates to influence their undecided counties their direction in the upcoming elections.
The issue of candidates using this knowledge to their benefit to manipulate election results with SEO isn't nearly as concerning as the power that Google possesses to potentially control world wide election outcomes. As the most recent study was conducted in India, the lead researcher of the study says that Google currently holds a monopoly in India as an internet search site, which in turn could mean unknowing political control.
Right now Republican candidates dominate the headlines for the search phrase, “2014 elections, US Candidates.” And Clay Aiken has been surfacing in the media after his opponent was found dead. According to studies, this puts these candidates in the lead.
India reporters fear that the risk of Google’s algorithm favoring one candidate over another could easily manipulate the outcome of who sits in office.
The way the study was conducted was by using a large group of undecided voters and having them all do a Google search to better help them decide on which 2014 candidate they should elect in office. Each group received a different order of how the search results were displayed to them -- and as a result, each group voted by the respective Google results that they saw.
The study also revealed certain demographics that were considered to be more “vulnerable” to be swayed by search engine results, as well as the type of people that were in the ‘undecided’ group. If you think that you may be out of the group likely to be manipulated by your own Google findings, so did these people. The results casting an influence on election voting is done so with complete unawareness.