Is Google Rigging Search Results to Manipulate EU Referendum?

An interesting and troubling question.

Google has demoted the site EU Referendum to “below the fold” in searches for the term “EU referendum”, where it isn’t visible to most web surfers unless they scroll down.

The political site, which was founded by author and researcher Richard A.E. North in 2004, was the top search result for the topical expression across all the major search engines for a decade.

At Google, the site has been demoted to 10th (or 13th, depending on how you count it) for the search term, with links to the BBC and the pro-EU Guardian newspaper ranking higher. North’s site still ranks No.1 for the same term over at Yahoo! and Bing.

The dramatic fall in EU Referendum’s search ranking, in the absence of a broader change in the algorithm, points to manual intervention.

Of course it does. 

Google will claim that it's offering more relevant content. And, predictably, content that it happens to agree with. Specifically the BBC and the Guardian were pushed up ahead. 

Beyond the EU, the core question lies with the consequences of that much power lying with a handful of companies. Google and Facebook combined have more reach than any media outlet could ever had. And their ability to massage content allows them to conduct a stealth propaganda that selectively manipulates users without them ever realizing it.