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Conference abstract, 2022

"Googla Gärna'": Suggestions to Search as a Discursive Practice in Swedish Climate Change Denialism

Rödl, Malte; Haider, Jutta; Joosse, Sofie


The world's largest search engine, Google, is omnipresent in everyday life\textemdash in 2021, 87\% of searches in the WWW and 96\% of searches in Sweden were conducted through Google\textemdash, yet usually hidden and unconsciously used. While Google is used as a tool for searching, it increasingly also provides the template for the production and distribution of information (and misinformation) in the first place. Google also has an increasingly central role in how people evaluate the credibility and trustworthiness of content they encounter. In this contribution, we turn to one particular instance of how Google is implicated in the creation of meaning and in fact `knowledge' about the environment, namely the case of selected Swedish climate change deniers. We trace their strategic use of Google in attempts at shaping the public understanding of climate change through enigmatic phrases such as "googla gärna" [google it] or ``sök p\aa '' [look for] that we understand as a performative, search-it-yourself alternative to hyperlinks. This project interrogates how search engines are entangled with (Swedish) climate change scepticism and denial by focusing on (1) appeals to googling as an everyday information practice used to seed doubt and misinformation, and (2) the creation and exploitation of so-called data voids, somewhat secluded spaces on the WWW in which content flourishes and reproduces itself. In doing so, this project connects academic literatures on knowledge creation, data voids and strategic signalling/communication, search engine studies, research on mis/disinformation, and media and information literacy to explore and provide opportunities to challenge the search-related practices in the Swedish climate denialist space. We suggest that by explicitly mapping out the discursive practice of suggestions to search, including their discursive embedding, their topic-related search terms, and the data voids this creates or exploits, it is possible to understand and counteract misinformation and climate denial.

Published in

Book title: STS CONFERENCE 2022
Publisher: Chalmers University of Technology


2022, May 4. STS Dagarna, Göteborg, Sweden.