Seek and you shall find? A content analysis on the diversity of five search engines’ results on political queries
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionInformation, Communication & Society. 2020, . 10.1080/1369118X.2020.1776367
Search engines are important political news sources and should thus provide users with diverse political information – an important precondition of a well-informed citizenry. The search engines’ algorithmic content selection strongly influences the diversity of the content received by the users – particularly since most users highly trust search engines and often click on only the first result. A widespread concern is that users are not informed diversely by search engines, but how far this concern applies has hardly been investigated. Our study is the first to investigate content diversity provided by five search engines on ten current political issues in Germany. The findings show that sometimes even the first result is highly diverse, but in most cases, more results must be considered to be informed diversely. This unreliability presents a serious challenge when using search engines as political news sources. Our findings call for media policy measures, for example in terms of algorithmic transparency.