Users access to Google to find out about health issues is frequent among citizens. This research analyzes the best results of three generic searches on homeopathy, collected in four waves in five countries: Spain, France, Mexico, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Specifically, the fluctuation of the corpus ranking is studied, and a sample of the ten best-positioned pages in each country is taken to analyze their content (the authorship of the website, the stance of the effectiveness of homeopathy, the presence of controversy and the type of content). The results show that the ranking is stable; that the stance of homeopathy is linked to the state of public opinion in the country; and that the majority of websites that appear better-positioned are from media.

Full document

The PDF file did not load properly or your web browser does not support viewing PDF files. Download directly to your device: Download PDF document


Allam, Ahmed; Schulz, Peter-Johannes; Nakamoto, Kent (2014). “The impact of search engine selection and sorting criteria on vaccination beliefs and attitudes: Two experiments manipulating Google output”. Journal of medical internet research, v. 16, n. 4. https://doi.org/10.2196/jmir.2642

Ananny, Mike (2016). “Toward an ethics of algorithms: Convening, observation, probability, and timeliness”. Science, technology & human values, v. 41, n. 1, pp. 93-117. https://doi.org/10.1177/0162243915606523

Arif, Nadia; Al-Jefri, Majed; Bizzi, Isabella H.; Boitano-Perano, Gianni; Goldman, Michel; Haq, Inam; Chua, Kee-Leng; Mengozzi, Manuela; Neunez, Marie; Smith, Helen; Ghezzi, Pietro (2018). “Fake news or weak science? Visibility and characterization of antivaccine webpages returned by Google in different languages and countries”. Frontiers in immunology, v. 9. https://doi.org/10.3389/fimmu.2018.01215

Baker, Paul; Potts, Amanda (2013). “‘Why do white people have thin lips?’ Google and the perpetuation of stereotypes via auto-complete search forms”. Critical discourse studies, v. 10, n. 2, pp. 187-204. https://doi.org/10.1080/17405904.2012.744320

Ballatore, Andrea (2015). “Google chemtrails: A methodology to analyze topic representation in search engine results”. First Monday, v. 20, n. 7. https://doi.org/10.5210/fm.v20i7.5597

Bozdag, Engin (2013). “Bias in algorithmic filtering and personalization”. Ethics and information technology, v. 15, n. 3, pp. 209-227. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10676-013-9321-6

Cano-Orón, Lorena (2016). “Correlación entre las búsquedas sobre terapias complementarias en Google y su uso por parte de la población española”. Panace@, v. 17, n. 44, pp. 124-132. https://dialnet.unirioja.es/servlet/articulo?codigo=5794532

Cano-Orón, Lorena; Mendoza-Poudereux, Isabel; Moreno-Castro, Carolina (2018a). “Perfil sociodemográfico del usuario de la homeopatía en España”. Atención primaria. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.aprim.2018.07.006

Cano-Orón, Lorena; Mendoza-Poudereux, Isabel; Moreno-Castro, Carolina (2019). “The rise of skepticism in the Spanish political and digital media contexts”. JCOM. En prensa.

Del-Gigante, Michael (2018). “The state of healthcare advertising: 4 key digital spend trends”. Mdgadvertising, July 24th. https://www.mdgadvertising.com/marketing-insights/the-state-of-healthcare-advertising-4-key-digital-spend-trends

Díaz, Alejandro (2008). “Through the Google Goggles: Sociopolitical bias in search engine design”. In: Spink, Amanda; Zimmer, Michael (eds). Web search. Multidisciplinary perspectives. Berlin: Springer, pp. 11-34. ISBN: 978 3 540 75828 0 https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-540-75829-7_2

Gerhart, Susan (2004). “Do web search engines suppress controversy?”. First Monday, v. 9, n. 1. https://doi.org/10.5210/fm.v9i1.1111

Germano, Fabrizio; Sobbrio, Francesco (2017). “Opinion dynamics via search engines (and other algorithmic gatekeepers)”. https://doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2890853

Gillespie, Tarleton (2014). “The relevance of algorithms”. In: Gillespie, Tarleton; Boczkowski, Pablo; Foot, Kirsten (eds.). Media technologies: Essays on communication, materiality, and society. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, pp. 167-194. ISBN: 978 0 262 52537 4 https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/research/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/Gillespie_2014_The-Relevance-of-Algorithms.pdf

Gillespie, Tarleton (2017). “Algorithmically recognizable: Santorum’s Google problem, and Google’s Santorum problem”. Information, communication & society, v. 20, n.1, pp. 63-80. https://doi.org/10.1080/1369118X.2016.1199721

Gonzalo-Penela, Carlos (2015). Posicionamiento web y dinámicas de información en motores de búsqueda: propuestas de análisis y estudio comparativo de visibilidad de contenidos digitales en el caso de procesos electorales. Tesis doctoral. Barcelona: Universitat Pompeu Fabra. http://hdl.handle.net/10230/23621

Gonzalo-Penela, Carlos; Codina, Lluís; Rovira, Cristòfol (2015). “Recuperación de información centrada en el usuario y SEO: categorización y determinación de las intenciones de búsqueda en la Web”. Index.comunicación: revista científica de comunicación aplicada, v. 5, n. 3, pp. 19-27. http://journals.sfu.ca/indexcomunicacion/index.php/indexcomunicacion/article/view/197

Haim, Mario; Arendt, Florian; Scherr, Sebastian (2017). “Abyss or shelter? On the relevance of web search engines’ search results when people google for suicide”. Health communication, v. 32, n. 2, pp. 253-258. https://doi.org/10.1080/10410236.2015.1113484

Haim, Mario; Graefe, Andreas; Brosius, Hans-Bernd (2018). “Burst of the filter bubble?”. Digital journalism, v. 6, n. 3, pp. 330-343. https://doi.org/10.1080/21670811.2017.1338145

IAB Spain (2017). Inversión publicitaria en medios digitales. Resultados 2017. https://iabspain.es/wp-content/uploads/inversin-publicitaria-medios-digitales_2017_vreducida.pdf

Jiang, Min (2014a). “Search concentration, bias, and parochialism: A comparative study of Google, Baidu, and Jike’s search results from China”. Journal of communication, v. 64, n. 6, pp. 1088-1110. https://doi.org/10.1111/jcom.12126

Jiang, Min (2014b). “The business and politics of search engines: A comparative study of Baidu and Google’s search results of internet events in China”. New media & society, v. 16, n. 2, pp. 212-233. https://doi.org/10.1177/1461444813481196

Kammerer, Yvonne; Bråten, Ivar; Gerjets, Peter; Strømsø, Helge I. (2013). “The role of internet-specific epistemic beliefs in laypersons’ source evaluations and decisions during Web search on a medical issue”. Computers in human behavior, v. 29, n. 3, pp. 1193-1203. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2012.10.012

Kao, Evelyn (2017). “Making search results more local and relevant”. Google blog, 27 octubre. https://blog.google/products/search/making-search-results-more-local-and-relevant

Kleis-Nielsen, Rasmus; Ganter, Sarah-Anne (2018). “Dealing with digital intermediaries: A case study of the relations between publishers and platforms”. New media & society, v. 20, n. 4, pp. 1600-1617. https://doi.org/10.1177/1461444817701318

Koed Madsen, Anders (2016). “Beyond the bubble: Three empirical reasons for re-conceptualizing online visibility”. MedieKultur: Journal of media and communication research, v. 31, n. 59, pp. 6-27. https://doi.org/10.7146/mediekultur.v31i59.19235

Lee, Kevin (2005). “Did‐it, Enquiro and Eyetools uncover search’s golden triangle”. PRWeb, March 1st. https://www.prweb.com/releases/2005/03/prweb213516.htm

León, Bienvenido; Codina, Mónica (2016). “Information and opinion in the representation of scientific consensus and skepticism on climate change in Spanish language online publications”. Observatorio (OBS*), v. 10, n. 3, pp. 104-118. https://doi.org/10.15847/obsOBS10320161021

Lewandowski, Dirk (2017). “Is Google responsible for providing fair and unbiased results?”. In: Taddeo, Mariarosaria; Floridi, Luciano. The responsibilities of online service providers. Springer, Cham, pp. 61-77. ISBN: 978 3 319 47852 4 https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-47852-4_4

Lopezosa, Carlos; Codina, Lluís; Caldera-Serrano, Jorge (2018). “SEO semántico: Framework ISS para la optimización de sitios intensivos en contenidos”. Cuadernos de documentación multimedia, v. 29, pp. 97-122. http://revistas.ucm.es/index.php/CDMU/article/view/60607

Moreno-Castro, Carolina; Lopera-Pareja, Emilia (2016). “Comparative study of the frequency of use of natural therapies among the Spanish population and their public image on digital media”. In: Procs of 14th Intl conf on public communication of science and technology (PCST). Estambul, Turquía. https://pcst.Co/archive/paper/2623

Noble, Safiya-Umoja (2018). Algorithms of oppression: How search engines reinforce racism. NYU Press. ISBN: 978 1 479837243

Novin, Alamir; Meyers, Eric (2017). “Making sense of convicting science information: Exploring bias in the search engine result page”. In: Proceedings of the 2017 Conf of human information interaction and retrieval. ACM, pp. 175-184.

Ontsi (2017). La sociedad en Red. Informe anual 2016. https://www.ontsi.red.es/ontsi/es/content/informe-anual-la-sociedad-en-red-2016-edici%C3%B3n-2017

Pan, Bing; Hembrooke, Helene; Joachims, Thorsten; Lorigo, Lori; Gay, Geri; Granka, Laura (2007). “In Google we trust: Users’ decisions on rank, position, and relevance”. Journal of computer-mediated communication, v. 12, n. 3, pp. 801-823. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1083-6101.2007.00351.x

Pasquale, Frank (2015). The black box society: The secret algorithms that control money and information. Harvard University Press. ISBN: 978 0 674 73606 1

Pías-Peleteiro, Leticia; Cortés-Bordoy, Javier; Martinón-Torres, Federico (2013). “Dr. Google: What about the human papillomavirus vaccine?”. Human vaccines & immunotherapeutics, v. 9, n. 8, pp. 1712-1719. https://doi.org/10.4161/hv.25057

Pogacar, Frances; Ghenai, Amira; Smucker, Mark; Clarke, Charles L. A. (2017). “The positive and negative influence of search results on people’s decisions about the efficacy of medical treatments”. In: Kamps, Jaap; Kanoulas, Evangelos; De-Rijke, Maarten; Fang, Hui; Yilmaz, Emine. Procs of the ACM Sigir intl conf on theory of information retrieval. New York: ACM, pp. 209-216. https://doi.org/10.1145/3121050.3121074

Puschmann, Cornelius (2018). “Beyond the bubble: Assessing the diversity of political search results”. Digital journalism. https://doi.org/10.1080/21670811.2018.1539626

Ramaswami, Prem (2015). “A remedy for your health-related questions: Health info in the knowledge graph”. Google. Official blog, Febr. 10. https://googleblog.blogspot.com/2015/02/health-info-knowledge-graph.html

Rieder, Bernhard (2016). RankFlow. http://labs.polsys.net/tools/rankflow

Rieder, Bernhard; Sire, Guillaume (2014). “Conflicts of interest and incentives to bias: A microeconomic critique of Google’s tangled position on the Web”. New media & society, v. 16, n. 2, pp. 195-211. https://doi.org/10.1177/1461444813481195

Roberge, Jonathan; Melançon, Louis (2017). “Being the King Kong of algorithmic culture is a tough job after all: Google’s regimes of justification and the meanings of Glass”. Convergence, v. 23, n. 3, pp. 306-324. https://doi.org/10.1177/1354856515592506

Robertson, Ronald; Lazer, David; Wilson, Christo (2018). “Auditing the personalization and composition of politically-related search engine results pages”. In: Procs of the 2018 World Wide Web Conf on World Wide Web (pp. 955-965). International World Wide Web Conferences Steering Committee. http://personalization.ccs.neu.edu/static/pdf/robertson-www18.pdf

Ruiz, Jeanette B.; Bell, Robert A. (2014). “Understanding vaccination resistance: Vaccine search term selection bias and the valence of retrieved information”. Vaccine, v. 32, n. 44, pp. 5776-5780. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.vaccine.2014.08.042

Van-Riel, Noor; Auwerx, Koen; Debbaut, Pieterjan; Van Hees, Sanne; Schoenmakers, Birgitte (2017). “The effect of Dr. Google on doctor–patient encounters in primary care: a quantitative, observational, cross-sectional study”. BJGP open, v. 1, n. 2. https://doi.org/10.3399/bjgpopen17X100833

White, Ryen (2014). “Belief dynamics in Web search”. Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology, v. 65, n. 11, pp. 2165-2178. https://doi.org/10.1002/asi.23128

White, Ryen; Hassan, Ahmed (2014). “Content bias in online health search”. ACM transactions on the Web (TWEB), v. 8, n. 4, pp. 25. https://doi.org/10.1145/2663355

Back to Top

Document information

Published on 24/03/19
Accepted on 24/03/19
Submitted on 24/03/19

Volume 13, Issue 2, 2019
DOI: 10.3145/epi.2019.mar.13
Licence: CC BY-NC-SA license

Document Score


Views 5
Recommendations 0

Share this document


claim authorship

Are you one of the authors of this document?