Many conservatives might use the search engine Bing to circumvent Google’s left-wing bias. A new study suggests that the Microsoft-owned search engine is not a good alternative for them, however. In fact, it might be even worse.
“People completely underestimate the dangers of bias when it comes to search engines. They think they are getting balanced information, and they’re not,” John Gable, co-founder and CEO of AllSides, the organization that conducted the study, told The Daily Signal in an emailed statement. “Instead, they’re being thrown into divisive filter bubbles that make them confidently ignorant.”
AllSides, a media company dedicated to presenting balanced news and diverse perspectives, analyzed the Bing News homepage and search results from March 9 to March 22, checking them alongside AllSides’ media bias chart.
The analysis found that 83% of the articles on Bing News’ homepage came from media outlets AllSides rates as Lean Left or Left, while only 13% came from media outlets rated Center, and 0% came from sources rated Lean Right or Right.
Bing News’ politics page also skewed heavily to the left, with 51% of stories from outlets AllSides rated Left or Left-Leaning, 28% from outlets in the Center, and just 8% from Right or Right-Leaning outlets.
Bing News’ homepage heavily featured Lean-Left outlets, namely The Associated Press (17%), USA Today (15%), ABC News (13%), NBC News (11%), The Washington Post (9%), and The Guardian (8%). It also featured Center outlets Reuters (8%), BBC News (4%), and CNN (3%). USA Today Sports, which appeared in 2% of results on the Bing News homepage, does not have an AllSides bias rating.
Bing News coverage on specific issues also skewed heavily to the left. Most outlets Bing featured in results for searches, for example, on “abortion” were Left (19%) or Lean Left (44%), while only 9% were Right (7%) or Lean Right (2%). Bing featured the highest percentage of conservative outlets on “crime,” but even there, the 54% of Left or Lean-Left outlets far surpassed the 18% of those from Right or Lean-Right sources.
The Bing News homepage results show even more liberal bias than AllSides’ study on Google, which found that 61% of media outlets on Google News’ homepage skewed to the Left (as opposed to Bing’s 83%). Google News’ homepage featured more conservative outlets (at a bare 3%) than Bing’s 0%.
Bing proved slightly more moderate than Google on specific terms such as “abortion,” “crime,” and “economy,” but it still overwhelmingly favored the left-leaning perspective.
AllSides used various methods to obtain objective results, including accessing the Bing News homepage in a private browser, blocking cookies, and incorporating “spot checks” to ensure that the same content appeared for different AllSides team members accessing Bing News from different locations in the U.S. The analysts did not customize their Bing News settings, to avoid personal impacts on the results.
AllSides uses blind bias surveys of Americans across the political spectrum and expert panel reviews from a multipartisan group in order to prevent one individual or group from having a disproportionate impact on the ratings.
AllSides analyzed only the outlets that Big Tech search engines Bing News and Google News featured, not the specific articles. The report on Google emphasizes that it does not include any determinations on whether Google News’ political leanings or biases are intentional. “Whether Google should provide a broader or more balanced diversity of perspectives, and whether that would support or hinder a healthier democratic society, is a philosophical or ethical question beyond the bounds of this analysis,” the report states.
In March, a Google spokesperson countered the earlier survey’s results, claiming AllSides’ “methodology is deeply flawed” and arguing that the study “cherry-picked a few topics and ran for a very brief period of time, presenting a misleading picture of Google News.”
Google pointed to information on its news publisher help center, noting that its algorithms focus on features such as relevance, authoritativeness, and freshness, rather than political ideology. The company also highlighted a 2019 study from The Economist, which found that “Google rewards reputable reporting more than left-wing politics. Our statistical study revealed no evidence of ideological bias in the search engine’s news tab.”
Gable responded by emphasizing Google’s bias, regardless of any intent.
“Even if not intentional, Google appears to have decided that the problem of political bias is not a sufficiently important problem to address, or has so far been unable to address it effectively,” Gable told The Daily Signal at the time. “Regardless of the cause or intent, if Google News intends to support a free and independent democratic society and provide its readers with the ability to consume a variety of perspectives and decide for themselves the best course, it is failing in that objective.”
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