Why is the tech industry up in arms about Google's search algorithm leak?

A leak of about 2,500 documents shed light on how Google's search engine operates, and not everyone is happy

Illustration of a search bar surrounded by grids in the Google logo colors, with a hand holding a magnifying glass
Google's Search algorithm is "perhaps the most consequential system on the internet"
(Image credit: Illustration by Stephen Kelly / Getty Images)

One of the world's biggest companies has found itself in hot water. Google is dealing with the effects of a massive leak that claimed to expose the inner workings of its search engine. The leak came to light on May 27 via tech entrepreneur Rand Fishkin, who said he "received an email from a person claiming to have access" to documents "from inside Google's Search division." A day later, the actual source of the leak, Erfan Azimi, the CEO of search engine optimization (SEO) agency EA Eagle Digital, came forward.

Azimi gained access to 2,500 pages of documents relating to Google's SEO operations. This is crucial because "Google's Search algorithm is perhaps the most consequential system on the internet, dictating what sites live and die and what content on the web looks like," said The Verge. The documents, which Google has since confirmed to be authentic, offer an "unprecedented look under the hood of how Search works — and [suggest] that Google hasn't been entirely truthful about it for years." 

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Justin Klawans, The Week US

 Justin Klawans has worked as a staff writer at The Week since 2022. He began his career covering local news before joining Newsweek as a breaking news reporter, where he wrote about politics, national and global affairs, business, crime, sports, film, television and other Hollywood news. Justin has also freelanced for outlets including Collider and United Press International.