What Google can know about the presidential elections

In an interactive report, SEMANA began to record how this technological platform measures the electoral pulse of the country. Giovanni Stella, general manager in Colombia of this company, explains the scope of this tool.Google has become one of the most relevant platforms to measure the pulse of the elections. It is a kind of virtual ring that shows the interest of searches that candidates have and the subjects that citizens want to know about them. Its tools can contribute to the challenge of the increasingly growing world of false news and also allow us to study the behavior of voters before the elections.

After three years in the General Management of Google for the Central America and Caribbean region, Giovanni Stella assumed the management of this platform in Colombia. WEEK spoke with him.

WEEK: In the last years, the searches that are done in Google have ended up being very telling of the electoral behavior. How do you register that phenomenon?

Giovanni Stella: We have observed it in past elections in other countries. For example, in the United States, in Costa Rica and even before the plebiscite in Colombia. From the search engine it was possible to see that the search interest had a greater volume in what finally ended up winning. That is something that was seen in the plebiscite where we found that people were looking for more information on No. He also spent with Brexit in England, he spent with Trump in the United States and in the case of Costa Rica with Carlos Alvarado.WEEK: And what role do you play in the behavior of searches?

Giovanni Stella: Actually we do not play any role, we literally do nothing. The search engine captures the interest of people towards a certain topic, what perhaps allows to show the search engine is that sometimes the greatest amount of interest is, in case of elections, not necessarily in the candidate that according to public opinion is gaining.

WEEK: And how is this reflected in your tools?

Giovanni Stella: There is a Google Trends tool that allows you to see in real time how these search trends are going. And that’s interesting because anyone can enter and search for search trends of any topic, not just elections.

For example, I am Italian and I have a memory of a few years ago during the 2014 World Cup when Italy played against Costa Rica, the Central American country beat my country. There was an incredible search spike about Costa Rica in Italy. It is interesting to be able to notice these patterns from a numerical point of view and from a point of view of the message they can give. In the case of Trump, if one looked at the search patterns, it could simply be inferred that it was not so much a surprise in general because for several months before he began to have a considerable number of searches and the same happened in the case of brexit .

WEEK: In Google Trends you have a tool for elections in Colombia, how does it work and what can users find when navigating it?

Giovanni Stella: The first thing that appears is the search for the candidates. It takes 100 percent of the searches that were done on them and looks at what percentage is reaching each. Below is how the evolution of that search volume was in the last three months. Then you can see from which region you are most looking for which candidate, which are the most wanted parties in the last seven days and in the last 12 months.

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