The New York Post frets about Google's power, and they are right to do so.
It is not a conspiracy theory. Google, by its very nature, has to rig results. Google can deny it, but then again, they have been fined by the EU for rigging.
Google and Facebook rake in billions, but they expect people to give ratings and reviews on places and products for free. So, right off the bat, you have a structure of exploitation: grabbing content for free, and then mining big data to sell and advertisers who pay these social media companies, not those providing content.
And if you have a robber baron mindset, then it extends in everything you do.
A few years ago, without my permission, Google Books had chunks of my first book online for free, and yet had advertising on the side of the page -- so they were making money on my print product.
I wrote to them to complain, but they cheerily refused my request, telling me to take it up with my publisher, which I did, and they thought it was a great idea, because, according to the publisher's logic, it was like browsing at a bookstore, which I said was a wrong analogy because it was more like having a photocopier right beside the shelves with free paper.
I still, as an author, have problems with Google. When you google my name, what comes up in the search results is a crapshoot, which it should never have been. Most of my articles that should show up, do not.
And then there is the sidebar that they can never get right. I have written to correct it several times. It never gets changed, or gets changed back to the incorrect version.
I clicked on the small print that says, "Do you manage the online presence for Alexandra Kitty?" to claim it, but the process is obscene, asking for way too personal information that includes providing a photograph of me holding up my driver's license.
Excuse me? Why would I give you a photograph of that? You are using my image and my works, and you have control over what is in my biography -- one that, if Google's system wasn't rigged, would have it right.
But it doesn't have it right. It never has. Why isn't this website at the top of the search results? Why does my Twitter feed outrank alexandrakitty.com?
So Google's denials are insincere. I have played around with it, and I have noticed patterns of rigs. It is not just political with suppression of other ideologies to just a single one (and hello! there are far more than two). It is also rigged to maintain an individual's confirmation bias.
You get different results on the same search words depending on your previous searches. I have a couple of computers and use different Google accounts. On one, I searched scientific and atheist information. On the other, I looked up tarot, astrology, and other hoodoo.
Then I used neutral searches that were unrelated on both for each primed account.
The results were very different. It restricts alternative thoughts as it reinforces your opinions.
So Google denying that it rigs search results is rubbish.
Search engines can easily socially engineer people's thinking patterns, and it forms unnatural habits.
Yes, we need to study Google empirically to see how their various rigs alter thinking and behaviour.
And it should be a top priority...