Ladies, Gentlemen, and Peoples of All Persuasions. I present you Google’s definitive answer to the trending question “Does eliminating the payroll tax defund social security?”
This is a prime example of Zero Rank Results (a.k.a. Default Answers) being used in a bias manner to influence voters to a specific political persuasion. Default answers like this one are curated by Google themselves and given to you before any of your actual search results. The practicing of giving you one “correct” answer to your question sounds amazing on the surface. There are certainly many great uses for a feature like this. Likes solving math problems, or reporting the time in a given location. Uncontested data and facts work just fine with this feature. However, it is a quagmire of ethical dilemma when it comes to political based topics or answers. Questions like this one should NOT be curated by Google as a default answer. This example shows why I have this stance. When a voter is searching for answers from a recent claim of a political concern they need to rely on unbiased information and trust that the sources of their news is not curating biased results.
But Jason, you say, The answer provided is 100% factual is it not?
While the facts in the answer are indeed correct. They are contextually false and misleading. Certainly, getting rid of the payroll tax would bankrupt the Social Security funds, but only if there is no alternate funding source put in place to prevent this. Trump specifically stated that he would shift funding for Social Security to the General Tax fund to prevent loss of benefits.
The question and the answer both are being asked in the context of Trump’s plan to eliminate the payroll tax. A plan that would address the bankruptcy concerns by shifting Social Security funding over to the General Tax Funds instead. This key piece of information is omitted from the answer on purpose. We know this because it’s an answer curated to the user by Google directly and not from a 3rd party search result. The question in the screenshot does not even mention Trump, but the answer clearly does. This demonstrates that Google is fully aware of the context surrounding the question as it relates to Trump’s plan, but deliberately left out critical information in order to paint the answer in a biased direction. It strikes at the fear, anger, and outrage that voters feel when they are told by an authority that Trump plans to take away their benefits.
We cannot trust that Google’s default answers to contested political positions are unbiased. It is best to limit the scope of their usage to purely noncontroversial fact data and definitions. Google, or at-least it’s employees, ares entirely aware of what content they curate to you as default answers instead of search results. So someone at Google has purposefully rigged this specific result to sway voters away from Trump. If you don’t believe that Google would be biased or that people within the company would disseminate their political agendas into their work, then just compare the search results from Google and any other private search engine for this exact question. See for yourself, I’ve added these pages to the WayBack machine to cement what they looked like today when I ran the searches myself:
When we let social media and news sources color our responses, we let outrage rule us. It’s something we all should learn to be aware of, recognize, and acknowledge it. Then rationalize logically instead of emotionally to the information at hand. Yes, I am aware of my own self-righteousness and biases. I am only human after all. However, my justifications are grounded in logic and not reactionary emotion-based outrage.