Bordered Sources? Human Rights Actors across the National and Regional Webs

Team members

Erik Borra, Chris Castiglione, Marieke van Dijk, Martin Feuz, Carolin Gerlitz, Kimmy Spreeuwenberg, Michael Stevenson, Marijn de Vries Hoogerwerf, Esther Weltevrede

Research Question

Can Google be made to show which human rights actors are dominant per country? One of the hypothesis is that countries that lack a local human rights sphere default to the global human rights sphere. Secondly, the expectation is that there are multiple 'global' human rights spheres.





1. First look at issue geographer what's done.
2. query marijn's scraper for 'human rights' in local language in relevant Google domains (save results in excel)
3. Harvest URLs
4. Enter Urls into geographer, map name
5. Wait 1 minute, then click on the map from issue geo home page
6. cleaning.
- whois
- site:TLD whois
- contact details
- organization location
- etc.

Case study: Default to global

For two thirds of the countries and domains analysed, human rights activists will for the majority of search results be turned to sources beyond the national borders.

To summarize, from two thirds of the countries, 'human rights' as represented by google's popularity based top ten results are a globally mediated issue matter.

- consider countries in xls with 0 local results and highligh them on a map with the same colour.


Google presents muliple ways to query a national web (i.e. different means to query for instance the Dutch web). Each national web offered by Google has a different combination of local and global results returned. is here considered as the global version of the search engine. Chosing the Netherlands in advanced search, Region returns ONLY local results. This is similar to with the option marked 'only pages from the Netherlands.' The default returns a combination of local results and global results. The option 'only results in Dutch' is a language filter of a national web; a national web in Google is coupled with a selection of dominant languages per country. Google also takes into account a computer's IP address when serving results. The implication is that results from can be different when located outside the Dutch borders.

-- EstherWeltevrede - 09 Aug 2009
Topic revision: r4 - 29 Oct 2012, ErikBorra
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