Joshua Keating asks whether Google News is lending legitimacy to authoritarian regimes and their news outlets by featuring their stories fairly high in the results:

Informal studies have observed that Google tends to prioritize original reporting over re-reported content. With either shrinking news budgets or government restrictions preventing Western news agencies from covering events in countries like Iran and Russia, that gives state-sponsored outlets a clear edge. A search for the latest news on Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is likely to turn up so many stories from loyal state-sponsored outlets like PressTV and Fars News because they spend a lot more time covering him and have much better access. ...

But he explains why Google is hesitant to change:

Google already labels some stories as blog posts, press releases, or paid content, rather than reported articles, but Gaither explained the company's reluctance to expand labeling further.

"One thing we have not done is to label anything according to any perceived political bias," he says. "We feel that's a slippery slope that we don't really want to go down."

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