Search Engines as “Globalizing Machines”: International News Flow Through Google During the 2020 Belarusian Presidential Election

Daria Kravets


News is increasingly consumed via search engines. Yet, there is little research on foreign news consumption through search engines. This study thus focuses on the presence of foreign news in political search results in a peripheral country that is at the focal point of the international conflict between Russia and the West. For that, I conducted an algorithm audit of Google’s Web search results in Belarus to queries on the 2020 Belarusian presidential election. An analysis of 50,400 search results collected daily over 4 months surrounding the election from revealed that Google in Belarus overwhelmingly favored foreign news outlets (mostly Western and Russian; 63%) over domestic Belarusian ones (37%). While the presence of Western news outlets (28.5%) may be argued to contribute to the democratization of the Belarusian public sphere, websites affiliated with Russia’s ruling elites (23%) most likely linked in favor of the ruling dictator Lukashenko. These findings advance the classic news flow research by demonstrating that international news flows are unbalanced toward a hierarchical core-periphery structure also when mediated through search engines.


search engines, Russia, international news flow, elections, Google, Belarus, localness

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