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Student Research Guide WQ24/ Impacts of Search Engines

Student Research Guide for Library 201/ Preston Howard

What is this Guide for?


The Influence of Search Engines on Society

 This is a student-created research guide for the English 102 & Library 201 Learning Community


This guide aims to discuss the influence of search engines, particularly Google, on current society, exploring their role in decision-making and shaping perspectives. It will also examine concerns regarding bias and information diversity.


The guide's thesis is to explore the significant influence of search engines, particularly Google, on modern society, analyzing how they mold viewpoints, guide decision-making, and the concerns arising from potential biases in their algorithms.


The research questions addressed in this guide are: 

1. What mechanisms are employed by search engines, such as Google, to present search results, and what are the implications of these algorithms?

2. How do search engines influence decision-making processes?

3. What concerns exist regarding bias, information diversity, and the overall impact of search engines today?



By exploring the influence of search engines on society, this research paper tries to shed light on their role in shaping perspectives and guiding decision-making processes. The investigation goes into the mechanisms of search engine algorithms, investigating how they present search results and their implications for information access. A key problem addressed in this research is the significant influence of search engines on society and the concerns arising from potential biases in their algorithms. The process involved an examination of academic literature and online resources related to search engine algorithms and their societal importance. There were many different sources of information, ranging from research papers to statistical data, used to formulate the results. The research results indicate that search engine algorithms play a crucial role in shaping the presentation of search results and influencing decision-making processes. The implications of this research suggest the importance of ongoing review and possible regulation of search engine algorithms to ensure transparency, fairness, and inclusivity in information access. Future research endeavors should focus on addressing the identified concerns and exploring potential solutions to lessen the negative impacts of search engines on society.

Background Information

Summary of Background Information and Important Facts

What is a Search Engine?

A search engine is a program designed to help users find information stored on the internet. When you type a question or list of keywords into the search bar, the search engine scans through billions of web pages in its library and displays a list of results that match your query.

How Search Engines Work

Search engines use complex algorithms to determine which web pages are most relevant to your search query. Algorithms are step-by-step instructions or rules that computers follow to solve problems or accomplish tasks, like sorting a list of numbers or finding the best route on a map. These algorithms consider lots of factors, such as the words on a webpage, its relevance to your search, and the quality of the content. Websites that are considered authoritative and trustworthy are often ranked higher in search results.

A Brief History of Search Engines

Search engines have evolved significantly since the early days of the Internet. In the 1990s, there were many different types of search engines that all worked a bit differently than each other. However, Google revolutionized search engines in the late 1990s with its own algorithm, PageRank, which prioritized web pages based on their popularity and relevance. Today, Google dominates the search engine market, handling billions of searches every day.

Key Issues and Concerns

While search engines provide convenient access to information, they may also have some important issues. Concerns about bias, privacy, and misinformation have become increasingly recognized as search engines play a more significant role in daily lives. Additionally, the influence of search engine algorithms on the visibility of certain information has raised questions about information diversity and the potential for echo chambers in online spaces.

Relevant Video

This video addresses the issue of algorithmic bias, particularly focusing on how facial recognition technology exhibits biases related to gender and skin tone. The video highlights the importance of inclusive data sets and intersectional analysis in addressing algorithmic bias.

Source citation:

Buolamwini, Joy. "Compassion through Computation: Fighting Algorithmic Bias." YouTube, uploaded by World Economic Forum, 2019,


All Content CC-BY.