If you’re a US citizen (and likely quite a few of you who aren’t), then you’re likely well aware of the current political season leading up to next year’s Presidential election. Things are crazy this time around, perhaps more so than in recent elections, and sorting through all of the candidates is a bit of a task. Microsoft aims to help out, with the Bing team putting together a number of tools meant to help keep everything straight.
Centered around a new tool called the Bing Political Index (BPI), the search engine’s resources can be found at www.bing.com/elections. As you conduct searches about the election in general, you’ll see information about the candidates pop up that reference the BPI as well.
Here’s the scoop on the BPI itself:
The BPI was built by the Bing Predicts team by crunching terabytes of search and social data, together with expert candidate analysis from Ontheissues.org, through machine learning models. BPI assigns a candidate score and a public score for ten of the key issues that shape the 2016 election cycle: education, environmental issues, tax reform, abortion, gun control, immigration reform, drug policy, LGBT rights, healthcare and Social Security.
The BPI will be a living thing, updated on a monthly basis as new information becomes available. You’ll be able to get in-depth information on candidates, compare your positions to theirs, and generally keep up-to-date on issues as they arise and as candidates respond to them. You can even take the “My BPI” survey to see which candidate aligns with you on the most issues.
Finally, a Timeline function will allow you to keep up with past election events and see what’s yet to come.
Tools like these demonstrate the impact that today’s search engines are having on the political system. Search results can skew a voter’s perception of various issues, and so care should be taken in evaluating them when arriving at positions. While search engines may (or may not) strive to remain objective, all sorts of algorithmic biases can arise that should be taken into account when evaluating online information and developing political opinions.
Bing is being helpful here in providing this kind of information, and we hope that it does, indeed, remain objective. There’s already enough biased information out there that we don’t need yet another source. Taken with a nice big chunk of salt, however, having political information centralized and condensed can be of some value as the election draws near.