Algorithmic transparency is the practice of being open about the purposes, structures, and understanding of the algorithms used to search and deliver the information. It allows users to understand how data is surfaced and ranked, making it easier to use the search engine.
A standard method of providing transparency and ensuring algorithmic accountability is third-party audits, which can take a qualified transparency approach. Despite complaints to the Federal Trade Commission, independent engineers found that Google’s search algorithms usually cause its services to appear ahead of others in search results.
The FTC investigated whether Google abused its web search dominance to advantage certain websites over others unfairly. To allow the investigation to meet with greater transparency, the FTC provided more information about how it had evaluated factors like pricing and advertising. The FTC found that Google’s actions had not been anti-competitive and did not illegally guide consumers’ searches results. However, because of negative publicity resulting from the investigation, Google made changes to ensure that its actions were fair.