Google has customized results for Obama, but not Romney

Once Web users search for "Obama," they find modified results tailored to that search when they look up information about topics such as Iran or Medicare.

Don Reisinger
CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
Don Reisinger
2 min read

Google isn't treating searches related to presidential candidates fairly, a new report charges.

The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that it commissioned a study on the way in which search results related to President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are displayed on Google. The study found that when users search for "Obama" or "Romney," Google displays standard results. Other related searches, however, are treated differently.

For example, the Journal tried to search for topics ranging from Iran to Medicare. Those who had already searched for "Obama" found that their results were customized to relate in some way to the president. Searches on those topics yielded no such customizations for Romney seekers.

CNET has been able to confirm the existence of the customized results in its own Google queries.

Google has, of course, used personalization in its search results for a long time. And although it personalizes results for Obama searchers, the results did not necessarily show a political leaning toward one candidate or another. Indeed, those who searched for "Iran" would see results that contained mention of both Obama and Iran displaying both laudatory and negative pages.

Still, in a race that is incredibly close with one day until the election, such differences have caught the attention of folks on both sides.

For its part, Google told the Journal that its sole desire to is to "get users the best answers as fast as possible." The company added that the Obama customization is the result of more people searching for "Obama" and then one of the political topics.