Shaping the web: Why the politics of search engines matters

Lucas D. Introna, Helen Nissenbaum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article argues that search engines raise not merely technical issues but also political ones. Our study of search engines suggests that they systematically exclude (in some cases by design and in some, accidentally) certain sites and certain types of sites in favor of others, systematically giving prominence to some at the expense of others. We argue that such biases, which would lead to a narrowing of the Web's functioning in society, run counter to the basic architecture of the Web as well as to the values and ideals that have fueled widespread support for its growth and development. We consider ways of addressing the politics of search engines, raising doubts whether, in particular, the market mechanism could serve as an acceptable corrective.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)169-185
Number of pages17
JournalInformation Society
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2000


  • Bias
  • Digital divide
  • Information access
  • Search engines
  • Values in design
  • World Wide Web

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Management Information Systems
  • Cultural Studies
  • Information Systems
  • Political Science and International Relations


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