Berlin, October 04, 2018: US President Donald Trump has complained that the results shown by online search engines and social networks primarily come from liberal media. With midterm elections just around the corner, the need for information about the political agenda of both liberals and conservatives peaks. We take this as an opportunity to analyze the news stories displayed by search engines, with a particular focus on President Trump’s recent allegation that Google shows a certain bias in favor of liberal media.
Searchmetrics decided to analyze the articles, links and reports found about Trump in the US results, to see whether they show any political leaning – and if so, what kind. The analysis shows that many well-ranked Google results do have a Trump-critical tone, whilst many results on Bing portray the president in a more favorable light. Looking at social networks, Instagram results are frequently positive towards Trump, whilst Tumblr, imgur, 9GAG and in particular the top tweets on Twitter are largely negative on the topic of “Trump”.
- Visibility in the Google search results:
A) Specific Visiblity of US online media for 250 “Trump”-related search terms:
Of the 76 media websites analyzed, cnn.com appears most frequently in the Google search results for 250 Trump-related search terms. Overall, for these 250 keywords, Google displays significantly more results from liberal media (28.5%) than from conservative sites (3.4%).
B) Overall Visibility trend of US online media based on millions of search terms:
Liberal and neutral online media have improved their general visibility in the Google search results since the inauguration of Donald Trump. In the same period, the visibility of conservative media websites only showed a negligible increase. “SEO Visibility” is a metric developed by Searchmetrics that indicates how likely it is that a website will appear in the Google search results.
- Political leaning of results for “Trump” in search engines:
There are significant differences in the political leanings of the results provided by different search engines. Google has the highest proportion of results critical of Trump. Bing has the highest proportion of results positive towards Trump. The results shown by the search engines duckduckgo and Yahoo are more neutral . A major factor in Google showing negative results about Trump is that Trump’s own properties (trump.com, Trump’s Twitter profile and donaldjtrump.com) appear far less frequently in Google’s top 10 than in the results of other search engines.
- Political leaning of results for “Trump” in social networks:
Results with primarily Trump-critical sentiments are found on Tumblr, 9GAG, imgur and Pinterest. By contrast, the majority of the top results on Instagram are positive towards Trump. The picture on Twitter is more varied: The “top tweets” are mainly critical of Trump, but the “latest tweets” about the US President include many more neutral and positive messages. This means that tweets critical of Trump either generate a large number of interactions or they are moderated more favorably by Twitter.
The following infographic summarizes all the data and findings of this analysis of the political leaning of Trump results in search engines and social networks:
Are US Google Search Results for “Trump” biased?
Interest in “Trump” over time
The following graph shows the interest in the search term “trump” over the past three years in the United States according to Google.
Trump Criticism of Online Media
This analysis was carried out following repeated criticisms made by US President Trump of an apparent one-sidedness of the results shown by online gatekeepers like search engines and social networks. The US President claimed that “96% of all search results” for the keyword “Trump News” belonged to left-leaning media. Google and others were accused by the President of repressing conservative opinions and hiding positive news. “They are controlling what we can & cannot see,” tweeted Trump. Speaking to reporters at the White House, Trump said: “Google and Twitter and Facebook [are] really treading on very very troubled territory.” He stated: “They have to be careful, it’s not fair to large portions of the population.” The original tweets containing Trump’s criticisms can be found here:
Google search results for “Trump News” shows only the viewing/reporting of Fake News Media. In other words, they have it RIGGED, for me & others, so that almost all stories & news is BAD. Fake CNN is prominent. Republican/Conservative & Fair Media is shut out. Illegal? 96% of….
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 28, 2018
Without evidence, Trump reiterated claims about Google’s search results, saying the company is “taking advantage of a lot of people.”
— CNN (@CNN) August 28, 2018
Social Media is totally discriminating against Republican/Conservative voices. Speaking loudly and clearly for the Trump Administration, we won’t let that happen. They are closing down the opinions of many people on the RIGHT, while at the same time doing nothing to others…….
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 18, 2018
Data basis and methodology
- For this analysis, the SEO Visibility and the SEO Market Share in Google.com’s organic search results were measured for 76 online media providers. SEO Visibility, developed by Searchmetrics, indicates how likely it is that a website will appear in the Google search results. More information about SEO Visibility can be found here.
- The 76 media websites analyzed are: abcnews.go.com, afp.com, alter-net.info, americansforprosperity.org, ap.org, bbc.com, blacklivesmatter.com, bloomberg.com, breitbart.com, brookings.edu, buzzfeed.com, cato.org, cbsnews.com, cnbc.com, cnn.com, c-span.org, dailycaller.com, dailydot.com, dailykos.com, drudgereport.com, economist.com, elitedaily.com, examiner.com, fivethirtyeight.com, foxnews.com, front.moveon.org, ft.com, huffingtonpost.com, ijr.com, jezebel.com, mediaite.com, mediamatters.org, mirror.co.uk, mises.org, motherjones.com, msnbc.com, nationalreview.com, nbcnews.com, newsweek.com, newyorker.com, npr.org, nydailynews.com, nypost.com, nytimes.com, pbs.org, politico.com, rare.us, realclearpolitics.com, reason.com, redalertpolitics.com, redstate.com, reuters.com, rt.com, salon.com, slate.com, texastribune.org, theatlantic.com, theblaze.com, thedailybeast.com, thefederalist.com, theguardian.com, thehill.com, theweek.com, thinkprogress.org, time.com, tyt.com, usatoday.com, vanityfair.com, vice.com, vox.com, washingtonpost.com, washingtontimes.com, weeklystandard.com, wnd.com and wsj.com.
- The US media classification is based on the Media Bias Chart 2018 by http://www.adfontesmedia.com/.
- Among the 250 keyword examples this analysis is based on are: donald trump, donald trump president, donald trump issue stances, who is donald trump, president donald trump, donald trump books, donald trump republican, donald trump on immigration, donald trump on education, donald trump biography, donald trump policies, donald trump political views, donald trump on foreign policy, donald trump immigration policy, donald trump speech.
- For the sentiment analysis of links, articles, tweets etc. found in search engines and social networks for the topic “Trump”, the top 10 search results for the keyword “Trump” were evaluated.
- Disclaimer: The algorithms used by search engines and social networks to determine the ranking of results also consider personal browsing history, interests, location and many other factors. Different users therefore see different results . For this study, a US user located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington DC, was emulated.