Buying Brexit: the politics of Google ads & the general election

By Pip Thornton

I have been doing some work about the Tories and Labour buying Google adverts for ‘dementia tax’ in the run up to the General election. It is fascinating to me as it shows so clearly what I am trying to critique in my work about the politics and economics of the search engine, and the neoliberalistion of language and discourse through Google’s AdWords marketplace. The potential tainting of the search engine with advertising is of course something Google’s creators Sergey Brin and Larry Page anticipated and indeed initially tried to avoid. This is evident in an appendix to their 1998 paper, on The anatomy of a large-scale hypertextual Web search engine, where they noted that ‘advertising funded search engines will be inherently biased towards the advertisers and away from the needs of the consumers’. Last week’s debate about the use of paid Google adverts by all…

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