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Sustaining the Public Good Vision of the Internet:
The Politics of Search Engines

Working Paper #9. 1999

Lucas Introna and Helen Nissenbaum

ABSTRACT
This paper argues that search engines raise not merely technical issues but also political ones. Search engines systematically exclude (in some cases by design and in some accidentally) certain sites in favor of others, or alternatively give prominence to some at the expense of others. Such biases run counter to the basic architecture of the Web as well as the values and ideals that have fuelled widespread support for its growth and development. The paper considers ways of addressing the politics of search engines, raising doubts whether, in particular, the market mechanism can serve as an acceptable corrective.

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