- Dans les ramures de l’arbre hypertexte: Analyse des incitations générées par l’opacité du moteur Google
- French Journal for Media Research
- Number of pages
- Document type
- Faculty of Humanities (FGw)
- Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis (ASCA)
Does Google have incentives to bias the treatment of information? With Google’s numerous areas of activity, we intend to demonstrate that it would have the possibility to distort both the advertising and the information market. Google’s way of working is largely opaque and it is difficult to get to the bottom of the economic and technical relationship between Google, publishers, and users. We have therefore developed a conceptual tool we call the "navigation tree" to show why it can be in Google's interest to favour some websites in the results it provides, and why publishers can think it is in their interest to share a part of their income with Google. The navigation tree is based on three elements: abilities, probabilities, and opportunities. We then claim that it is necessary to examine the role played by the firm considering publishers’ need to generate traffic to their pages and the fact that publishers may take action based on what they know with certainty about Google (incentives push the firm to favour its business partners) and on what they do not know (does it favour them?). Online observation of 20 news websites allows us to show that the major French news publishers are in fact Google’s business partners. Google has therefore economic reasons to favour them in its results, whether it effectively does so or not. Eventually, we explain how Google can be all at once a competitor, a partner, and even a customer for publishers on the advertising market.