Boris Mann

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Goggles

The full title is GOGGLES: Democracy dies in darkness, and so does the Web. Authored by the Brave Search Team.

Abstract

This paper proposes an open and collaborative system by which a community, or a single user, can create sets of rules and filters, called Goggles, to define the space which a search engine can pull results from. Instead of a single ranking algorithm, we could have as many as needed, overcoming the biases that a single actor (the search engine) embeds into the results. Transparency and openness, all desirable qualities, will become accessible through the deep re- ranking capabilities Goggles would enable. Such system would be made possible by the availability of a host search engine, providing the index and infrastructure, which are unlikely to be replicated without major development and infrastructure costs. Besides the system proposal and the definition of the Goggle language, we also provide an extensive evaluation of the performance to demonstrate the feasibility of the approach. Last but not the least, we commit the upcoming Brave search engine to this effort and encourage other search engine providers to join the proposal.

Keywords

search, open ranking, algorithmic transparency

Motivation

Democracy dies in darkness, a line recently adopted by the Wash- ington Post as their slogan, warns us that unless people are informed with facts and truth, no true democracy is possible. Those who ben- efit from darkness have always tried to control media in order to control and manipulate public opinion with propaganda. Until re- cently, propaganda has been the exclusive domain of nation-states or state-sponsored actors through mass media 1. With the mass popularization of the Web in the last two decades and the subsequent privatization of it by big platforms like Google, YouTube and Facebook, the paradigm has changed. Propaganda is no longer a tool of an elite, but it has been commoditized to the extent that it is as accessible as advertisement, becoming a weapon that too many actors have access to. One must appreciate the irony that those most vocal about the risks of propaganda are those who controlled it in the past. Nevertheless, the risk of fake-news—a neologism created to mitigate cognitive dissonance—cannot be ignored 2 3 4 5 6. It is dangerous for a society if people living in it cannot distinguish between facts, opinions and outright misinformation. Although this danger has always existed, today the situation is dire if only because quantitative becomes qualitative and although all information is theoretically available, in practical terms it is not.

  1. Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky. 1988. Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media. Pantheon Book.

  2. Pew Research Center. 2016. Many Americans Believe Fake News Is Sowing Confusion

  3. Simone Chambers. 2021. Truth, Deliberative Democracy,and the Virtues of Accuracy: Is Fake News Destroying the Public Sphere, Political Studies 69, 1 (2021), 147–163. https://doi.org/10.1177/0032321719890811 arXiv: https://doi.org/10.1177/0032321719890811

  4. Dietram A. Scheufele and Nicole M. Krause. 2019. Science audiences, misinformation, and fake news. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 116, 16 (2019), 7662–7669. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1805871115 arXiv: https://www.pnas.org/content/116/16/7662.full.pdf

  5. Joshua Tucker,Andrew Guess,Pablo Barbera,Cristian Vaccari,Alexandra Siegel, Sergey Sanovich, Denis Stukal, and Brendan Nyhan. 2018. Social Media, Political Polarization, and Political Disinformation: A Review of the Scientific Literature. SSRN Electronic Journal (01 2018).

  6. Soroush Vosoughi, Deb Roy, and Sinan Aral. 2018. The spread of true and false news online. Science 359,6380 (2018), 1146–1151. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.aap9559 arXiv: https://science.sciencemag.org/content/359/6380/1146.full.pdf