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The language specialisation of the Google search engine

The most popular web search engine, Google, adapts its results and rankings according to the language setting of the client browser. This causes results to differ in ways intransparent to non-expert users, and leads to different views of the web being presented to different users. This study investigates this systematically. To that end, a novel method for comparing URL lists is developed, which separates differences in the URLs contained from differences in order and in rank. Google results were retrieved from different country-specific servers and by client computers located in different regions and countries, and were compared in view of language-related differences. The results of this study offer lessons about how to use Google in a research context, and how to conduct web searches with a reasonable standard of objectivity.

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