In February, the portal site Naver abolished the real-time search words service that allowed public opinion manipulation and advertisement controversy over 16 years. In addition, the portal site Daum abolished its real-time search words feature in 2019. The service, which first appeared in 2005 under the name ‘Naver Real-Time Search Rank,’ worked by analyzing search terms entered into Naver's search box for a certain period of time and showing the largest increase in the number of entries in order. However, Naver's real-time search words service was controversial over its reliability.
As political and commercial controversies continue, Naver responded by using artificial intelligence (AI) technology and temporarily suspending services during the election period. However, the controversy did not calm down and, in the end, Naver abolished this service, stating, "We will end the real-time search words service, news topics, and search charts together in accordance with the diversifying search trends.” Daum excutives Yeo Min-soo and Cho Soo-yong added, "Real-time issue search terms should be places that show users' natural interest and the results of phenomena occurring in society, but recently they have become the starting point of phenomena rather than a reflection of results. The real-time issue search term, which is used differently from its original purpose, does not match Kakao's philosophy, so we will end it and prepare a new service that can revive its original purpose and function.” So, company abolished this service. In addition, Daum also abolished the search words service and suggestion function related to people. "Even if it is a word that many users have actually searched, they are exposed to suspicions, information that is not true, and private information they do not want to disclose," the Daum executives said, pointing out side effects such as attack on personal character, privacy and defamation. "Now, if we search for a person on Daum and Kakao Talk, the related search terms will no longer appear," they said. For,Yoon Yeo-jin, director of the Center for Media and Human Rights "Real-time search words services and person-related search words services have so far gone beyond the public's right to know. It is overused commercially and has had various side effects. It is not a bad change for users.”
Real-time search words services for portal sites did not disappear for no reason. During April 15 National Assembly elections in 2020, real-time search words services were temporarily suspended due to suspicions of manipulating the previous real-time search words. In August 2019, ‘Cheer up Jo-Kook’ and ‘Resign Jo-Kook’ political slogans were used in connection with former Justice Minister Jo-Kook, which ranked first and second in real-time search words. Accordingly, in April 2020, Naver said, “We will stop operating the real-time search keyword service from the start of the official election campaign to the end of the voting period. During this period, most of the interest was on elections, these slogans may affect the fairness of elections, and may lead to unforeseen issues.” Naver added, “Since the 2014 local elections, automatic completion of candidate names and related search words services have been suspended during the election period. As the exposure of related search terms to all person names has been suspended in March, related search terms for candidate names are also not provided. In addition, the automatic completion function for candidates will be suspended during the election period, like the previous election.”
Naver's real-time search words service has also been controversial due to excessive advertising by certain companies. The portal site's real-time search words played a role as an information channel to find out the current trends and topics. However, every hour, a specific company, brand, or event was excessively promoted through real-time search words. In 2019, Toss, a remittance service, launched a service for users, which provoked complaints from users by excessively exposing real-time search words. As advertising search terms from certain companies continued to be posted as well as Toss, controversy over so-called manipulation arose and Toss said, "We will minimize the impact on real-time search terms by linking events directly to the homepage or separate pages instead of Naver events.” The company responded quickly, but there were still suspicions of manipulation. Naver announced its official position, “There is absolutely no manipulation. Manipulation is impossible due to the strengthening of the system.”
There is another serious problem with real-time search words services related to malicious comments and real-time search words running on certain celebrity articles. Malicious comments and aggressive real-time search words have even taken a person's life. The celebrity's managers and promotion officials even told reporters, "Please, tell me how to upload real-time search words. I asked them to put it on real-time search words.” Plus, there were many cases where celebrity fan clubs posted messages in real-time search terms to congratulate their idols on their birthday. In response, Naver has taken measures to prevent comments on celebrity-related articles and photos. Although each portal site responded to various problems, real-time search words services were completely abolished due to continued manipulation and fake facts. Real-time search words services have not suddenly been abolished. To solve the problems, Naver excluded the search words service news from the first mobile start screen in May 2018. In November 2019, it was applied so that users can set individual settings such as events, discount information, and views by issue. However, in February 2020, real-time search words services were abolished from Daum, and Naver abolished them in February this year.
Weather information is currently being featured in place of the abolished real-time search words. It is set so that the user can see at a glance fine dust polution that has rapidly increased and the weather in the user's area. In addition, a search box has been established where users can check their interests, and news content has also changed based on ‘subscribe to media’ and ‘personalization recommendation.’ Each portal site is working hard to replace the disappeared real-time search words. Daum launched the “Kakao Data Trend” and recommends it so that users can find the necessary information by segmenting the field, gender, and age. Naver further strengthens the function of 'Data Lab' to provide services such as trending search terms, shopping sites, card usage, and local areas. In addition, users can visit a separate page to inquire about search data based by period, field, gender, region, and age group.
With the abolition of Naver's real-time search words service, some are paying attention to stock fluctuations. The reason Naver has grown and occupied a large market share so far is that real-time search words services accounted for a large proportion space. Before that, there was Naver News, and now real-time search words services have been abolished, and news has also been changed to select the media. Naver is a large company that ranks sixth in market capitalization in Korea. Naver is running businesses such as search platform, commerce, fintech, content, and cloud. Naver's performance is profitable through search advertising. By the third quarter of 2020, sales increased further due to the activation of untact due to COVID-19, and advertising types changed efficiently, up 26.3% from last year. However, some say that share prices will fall as real-time search words services are abolished, while others say that Naver will not be affected because it is a very large company. It is difficult to make accurate predictions because the stock price of a company may rise or fall. As a result, people are expected to be interested in Naver's competition with other portal sites and future prospects.
Real-time search words were a convenient function by providing various information and events. As the real-time search words services have been abolished, which ran into a lot of trouble due to many incidents, some say that it is inconvenient to see a lot of information at a glance. It is an opinion that it is uncomfortable because the issues can not be known at a glance as before. However, there are opinions that it is good that users are not fooled by fake news and false information created by real-time search words services, and they can only see the information they want to find. Now that real-time search words services have been abolished, users have to look for news and articles themselves. As a result, the role of each broadcaster and media has become important as they are expected to provide genuine and accurate information, not just thinking about the number of views on articles and news.
Although real-time search words services were plagued by manipulations and advertisements, we could see people living in the world. However, because of the recent disappearance of these services, there are many stances that reflect what has happened so far. Real-time search words services are on the Internet, but they are created and operated by people. It was also abolished by humans. People's convenience has been lost because of some people's excessive greed and questionable attitudes. Unfortunately, we hope that this incident will remind people to be aware of Internet issues and anonymity.