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Almost Knew

by Amy Zidell
MP3 Audio Version available here

• Almost Knew: Political Social Commentary

Most people know when they 'Google' something that the results are, shall we say, controlled. Businesses or organizations with aggressive Search Engine Optimization (SEO) could show higher in results. SEO is its own industry. Though I take anyone promising you 'top ten search results' like someone telling you about a 'sure thing' stock -- same is true for both, they are either lying or have insider information. Neither is good.

You've heard ads for tech companies that can repair your online reputation. SEO is a Shark Tank contestant conversation with Mark Cuban. Now when it comes to a can opener, or a belt sander, and then you learn about orbital sanders, and random orbital sanders, and detail sanders, and palm sanders -- that's one thing. But when search results and digital rabbit holes are about ballot propositions or candidates for any office from city council, county supervisor, district attorney, state assembly, to President that really matters.

You usually have about thirty days to return an online or actual physical store purchase, but you can't take back your vote at least for a while or go through grueling, arduous, questionable, hit or miss recall process.

I recently became aware of some work of Ph.D Doctor Robert Epstein. Dr. Epstein's research objectively documented Search Engine Manipulation Effect (SEME) and Search Suggestion Effect (SSE) specifically regarding political campaigns. He testified, June 2019 before United States Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution hearing about Google and Censorship.

In the New York Post Miranda Devine wrote about his work "How Google Manipulates Search to Favor Liberals and Tip Elections".

In short, the findings are voters who based their voting information on especially Google and/or YouTube search results or 'next' video, were seeing skewed, manipulated information, negative results information on primarily GOP candidates, and positive results information on opponents, who happened to be Democrats. Therefore a not insignificant amount of voters, in surprisingly very close key races, may have unknowingly been manipulated to vote a certain way. Sounds like subliminal search results!

Commonly known phrase is, Caveat Emptor, Latin for Let the buyer beware. Apparently it is time for Scrutator Caveat, Latin for Let the searcher beware.

Don't believe everything you read has been around since probably before the printing press. Before that probably, don't believe everything you hear, and of course, don't believe everything you see. Huh, not novel at all.

I do lots of election research. I look for unedited videos; CSPAN is great source. I look at candidate's own web site. I pay attention to the * on the mailer that at a glace appears to support my registered party affiliation, but too often *candidate is not at all who I would vote for. I go through multiple voter guides from sources and commentators that I like and trust. (No, I'm not going to use influencer phrase.) My joke to self is why do I spend the time doing this as usually it's straight ticket. Of course, that's usually top of ticket items. Local measures and candidates, and non-partisan things can be all over the place.

In any case, every vote should count. Every vote should be informed on solid information. I can't proclaim, "If I knew then, what I know now, I would've voted different," because I learned what I needed to before I voted. Yet, sadly, there are enough voters who could honestly proclaim, "If I knew then, what I know now, I would've voted different," that results of more than just one election would've been different.

Whether chitchating about politics, or volunteering handing out campaign filers, I don't expect we will all agree on everything. It doesn't matter to me how you vote, just be informed. I think it is very important to vote and you need to know what you are voting for. Think for yourself. Search for yourself. And pray you are not a candidate for future proclamation, "If I knew then, what I know now, I would've voted different."


Doctor Robert Epstein, Search Engines, SEO, Google, YouTube, SEME, SSE, Miranda Devine, Sanders, Detail Sanders, Orbital Sander, Random Orbital Sander, Palm Sander, Vote, Information, Elections, Retail, Online, Return, Recalls, Caveat Emptor, Scrutator Caveat

Free-lance writer, web consultant, and entrepreneur. Used to enjoy sushi and dark chocolate but not so much anymore. I gave up waiting for that new perfect pair of sunglasses to update my picture; so I dug up the old pair of sunglasses and snapped away for Then and Now.

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