Search engine can control us more than we think!

Search engines Image : ar130405, some rights reserved

Have you ever curious about how search engines were made to easy for us to use? Or Want to know what search engines do with our data?

Question on the face Image : Anemone123, some rights reserved

This short web essay will show search engines as the important tool that users easily rely on for information and creating social relationship.

Search engine is refer to as the system which allow users to look for the information by using the terms through internet and many different websites(Halavais, 2013).


The usage of computer to control over the flow of information and collections is the beginning of the technology for organizing the data(Halavais, 2013). This function of computing system in library become the basis for how search engines work thesedays(ibid.).

The need for search engines has increase gradually when the collection of data become too large to map and it become impossible to look through everything physically.

In 1990, internet become to increase in term of sizes and the emergence of World Wide Web has created more information to be browsed (Halavais, 2013). World Wide Web become available since 1991 and the popularization of browser grow more quickly (Couvering, 2008).

The first search engines named “Archie” was created in 1990 and it is similar to the “crawlers” which visit the FTP (File Transfer Protocol) sites and indexed  their directories(Halavais, 2013).

Archie Query Form , Image : Danny Stieben, some rights reserved








However there are constraints toward this search engines, unlike ones today, it did not discover the another links and not scan on  full content of pages because it was limited to files’ titles (ibid.).

How search engines become the trend ?

Search engines has play the role in historical trend for this two main reasons.

Collection of huge amount of data

They have the way of seizing the unmanageable and unstructured amount of data such as email, documents and content(Halavais, 2013).

Search engines become feature in many devices and it is the collections of data that is based on human knowledge(Weikum, 2010). Even though, the system to collect data has existed before, today , search engines discover more variety of sizes and diverse content(Halvais, 2013).

The knowledge communities such as Wikipedia and other websites extracting the information would facilitate the users’ searching for knowledge (Weikum, 2010). Wikipedia is also one of the common sources and it expose the wealth of data and information(ibid.).

Wikipedia,  Image : David Beard, ⓒ All Rights Reserved Poynter Institute 2018

Social behaviours of searches

Search engines depend on the social engagement and searching behaviours to generate the collection of knowledge that meet social needs (Halavais, 2013).

The concept of “Social Search” refer to the connection of users to find the information quickly and more effectively(ibid.).

Since search engines have always been social, they become socialable which refer to as the better interaction(ibid.). Instead of having the overloading amount of data, sociable search engines focus more on fulfil the social needs and facilitating the social interaction(ibid.).

When you ever search for something and the search box suggest on the sentences or the questions that you might or would want to know? This is one of the feature of search engine like Google to facilitate the general data of users and predict questions for users to make the experience easy.

Screenshot of “Vaccine” search

For example, when someone search about “Vaccine” on the Google, it gives the articles and questions that many users frequently asked for ,therefore, users can have more interaction and understand more about the topic.

The structures of search engines are also good at browsing the websites that would satisfy the general needs and they use “collaborative filtering” to provide answers that users have less responsibilities on questions(Halavais, 2013).

The collaborative filtering also allow users with same interests to find the similar documents and information(ibid.).

Who are winners ?

Boxers winning the match Image : Skitterphoto , some rights reserved

When you think about the search engines what company come into your mind first? Google? Yahoo?

Google is regarded as the most popular search engines in the web today and it is ranking first in many countries such as Germany, United Kingdom and Fance and as third in both United States and Asia behind Yahoo and other search engines(Vaidhyananthan , 2013).

According to Pew study, google is still dominating the search eninges with 83% of users and followed by Yahoo with 6%. This has show the huge gap between Google and other search engines( Purcell, Brenner & Raine , 2012).

(figure 1)Google global marketing share Image : Carolanne Mangles, © Smart Insights (Marketing Intelligence) Ltd

According to figure 1, Net Market share also reported that Google become the biggest search engines in the global market with 74.54% share followed by Yahoo, Bing and Baidu and other search engines such as duckduckgo, AOL and Ask All have less than 1% marketshare relatively (Mangles , 2018).

In Figure 2, until July 2018, Google is dominated with 86.02 % percent of shares worldwide and the main revenues are produced through advertising.

(figure 2) World wide desktop market share of leading search engine from 2010 to 2018 Image : Statista, © Statista 2018

Google benefits from the clickstream data and the advertising that would generate the revenue for the company (Mangles, 2018).

Since they collect data from users and sold to the advertising to collect the enormous amount of revenue, it would benefits search engines in many different ways.

The collection of user informatin is the base for the search engines and useage of free webistes are paid through users providing detailsof their location and information which are sold to the advertising companies(Kou & Lou , 2010).

The data from user activity are transnformed into commodity that are the exchange value for advertising marketplace.

In addition to the search engine optimisation, Google also use “ the cost-per-click advertising model” and advertisers have to pay to gettheir advertisement on the top results(Kou & Lou, 2010)

(figure 3) Google ad revenue from 2001 to 2017 , Image : Stastia , © Statista 2018


According to the figure 3, Google revenue has reached 95.4 billion dollars in 2017 and advertising revenue feature around 70 percent of the company’s revenue.

Political advantages 

Politics is one of the areas for most organisations or political parties to benefits from(Halavais, 2013). Likewise, Google also benefits from the data that they collect in this factor by helping to win the election.

For example , Cambridge Analytica has the reputation of using the data-driven campaign  and adveritising on google and other social media platforms to help Donald Trump win US election (Lewis & Hilder , 2018).

Advertisment to vote Trump in election Image : Cambridge Analytica ,© 2018 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved.

They use the advertising and search engines optimising to target users from the specific location and deliver advertisement frequently to thousands of users(Mager , 2018).

Social and Cultural advantages

Moreover, search engines play the central role in collecting the information and benefits from the data of users. They also have the ability to control over the social and cultural behaviour because they influence on what people should find and search for(Vaidhyananthan, 2013).

For example, Google shape the cosumers’ behaviours and direct on them by giving advices to create content that would appear on the first page of search engine ranking(ibid.).

This new means of power to influence behaviour is also recreating the form of self : the cultural and social patterns constructed the self and these “technical protols” reconstructed by urging through engagement, content creating and searching(ibid.).

This has depend on the algorithms that Google created to show which are the most relevant or famous answers for their questions in search box( Kou & Lou, 2010). Guardian has questioned on whether alogoritms of search engines shape our behaviour .

Who do not benefit?

After I have discussed the benefits of Google from harvesfting data and using as the commodity , I will also focus on people who don’t benefits from search engines.

Since the article stated about the dominant of some search engines, it is difficult for other search engines to start their business and get notice of users.

Google becomes the easiest choices in term of social engines and the other creation of search engines would not take away any market from it.

For example, Quero was created as the another search engines to combat on the dominance of Google in Europe and North America (Vaidhyananthan 2013).

It purpose is to fix the cultural and social bias of Google. However, unfortunately, it was underfunded, unable to fix the problems and slow to develop, therefore ,it died in 2007(ibid.).

Therefore, many other findings like Quero, Bing would not take away the major market from Google.

Another main group that would not benefit from the search engines are users.

Even though you might think why users? They have so many benefits from the search engines.

However, search engines like Google would exploit users in the way of data privacy and alienation(Koing & Rasch, 2014).

Monitoring the personal data would lead to breaching privacy and many average users would concern about it(ibid.).

According to BBC news , Google+ has shutdown after they exposed data of 500,000 users since 2015.

As I also talked about commodifying the user’s data which can lead to alienation of users from their content that involved their time and energy(ibid.).


Search engine has developed from the system of collection and organising the data and it has extended toward the large number of business.Even though, search engine like Google use the data as commodity and dominant on the market, they are still the main important tool for users to rely on for information.Search engine also have to aware of the privacy protection and the diverse content on the web to attract more users from different background.



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Halavais, A. (2013). Chapter One : The engines. In Search Engine Society (pp.5- 31). Retrieved from


Halavais, A. (2013).Chapter Searching . In Search Engine Society (pp.32-55). Retrieved from


Halavais, A. (2013).Chapter Sociable Search. In Search Engine Society (pp. 160-180 ). Retrieved from


Koing, R., & Rasch, M. ( 2014). A Database of Intention. In Society of the Query Reader: Reflections on web search (pp.16-29), Institute of networked cultures.


Kou, G., & Lou, C. (2010). Multiple factor hierarchical clustering algorithm for large scale web page and search engine clickstream data. Annals of Operations Research. (1) . doi:


Lewis, P., &  Hilder, P. (2018 March 23). Leaked : Cambridge Analytica’s blueprint for Trump victory.  The Guardian. Retrieved from


Mager, A. (2018).  Internet governance as joint effort : ( RE) ordering search engines at the intersection of global and local cultures. New Media & Society. (10). doi:


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Purcell, K., Brenner, J., & Raine, L . (2012). Search Engine Use 2012. Retrieved from


Vaidhyananthan, S. (2013). The Googlization of Everything. Retrieved from


Weikum, G. (2010). Chapter 3 : Search for Knowledge. In S. Ceri , M. Brambilla. (Eds), Search Computing: Challenges and Directions. (pp.24-39). Heidelberg, Berlin : Springer. Retrieved from











Moe Moe Myintzue Aye
About Moe Moe Myintzue Aye 3 Articles
Hi! My name is Moe Moe Myintzue Aye. I am studying Media and Communication at University of Sydney. I love writing about the technology and how it works because they are the closet things that exist to us and we use every single day!

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