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Deciphering search ranking credibility and quality: an exploratory analysis

Pots, K. (2016) Deciphering search ranking credibility and quality: an exploratory analysis.

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Abstract:Due to the use of search engines as primary source of information and increased registered data online, search engines such as Google, can collect, store, and exploit tremendous amounts of personal data. Search rankings, displayed by Google, are generated and personalized based on an online identity. However; personal data can be inaccurate or irrelevant due to the misrepresentation of an individual. Furthermore, the process of ranking based on registered data, also referred as Back-end Googlization, can alter and manipulate the individual’s perception of what information is available. Both of these scenarios can create credibility discussions. Therefore, this study examines the impact of personalization of search rankings on the credibility perceived by the search engine users. An experiment is conducted to identify the differences between top k lists of two categories of search engines; [1] a search engine that tracks personal registered data (e.g., Google) and [2] a search engine that does not track personal registered data (e.g., DuckDuckGo). Subsequent, the perceived credibility is determined by a survey, which contains a set of credibility constructs. The experimental results show that there is little to no overlap between the search rankings of Google and DuckDuckGo. Thus, the top k lists of both search engines are significantly different. Furthermore, the negative correlation between the personalization of the search rankings and the perceived credibility score indicates that personalization has a negative impact on the perceived credibility of a search engine. This results in the fact that organic services, such as DuckDuckGo, are perceived as more fair and trustworthy to perform search queries due to its anonymous platform. The results of this study offer a basis for the synthesis of different insights on the discursive mechanisms of search engines and the (political) platforms developed by search engines.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:85 business administration, organizational science
Programme:Business Administration MSc (60644)
Link to this item:http://purl.utwente.nl/essays/71062
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