Google targets fake news, offensive search suggestions

Google targets fake news, offensive search suggestions

The search engine's parent company, Alphabet Inc., announced its plans to change a fundamental component of its algorithm that previously allowed false information to be sent straight to the top of its results pages.

In a blog post, Google Vice President of Search Ben Gomes said that Google has improved its evaluation methods and made algorithmic updates to surface more authoritative content. As part of that process, we have evaluators - real people who assess the quality of Google's search results - give us feedback on our experiments. It's a long way from flawless, nor do I expect the results will ever be ideal for every search. Google's had some problems in the past with sites manipulating how they appear on results.

The company has identified the billions of indexed pages in its search results.

Google's troubles with offensive content have been popping up with more frequency in recent months.

In addition to applying algorithms, the tech giant is also using human moderators to evaluate the quality of search results to remove problematic queries. One will see this in Google's autocomplete which may still produce rather odd and hateful results, but now users can flag them and Google can more easily correct them.

From Facebook to Wikipedia, internet organizations are focusing efforts more than ever before to crack down on fake news - poor-quality web content that typically spreads through misleading, often offensive headlines.

"When you visit Google, we aim to speed up your experience with features like Autocomplete, which helps predict the searches you might be typing to quickly get to the info you need, and Featured Snippets, which shows a highlight of the information relevant to what you're looking for at the top of your search results", Gomes explained.

Google has marked the issue as a different problem from existing fake news issues, but its motto stays the same - i.e. - to decrease the volume of such sources. For instance, if Google guaranteed that flagging content would remove a search result, unethical users could wield a "banhammer" to block content they didn't like or in order to favour their own content.

New, in-depth feedback tools are also being added to the search engine's auto-complete and featured snippets features so users can report offensive or inaccurate content. Besides trying to block fake news, Google has reprogrammed a popular feature to omit derogatory search suggestions.

Gomes added an interesting fact at the end. Google says its new approach isn't meant to placate advertisers.

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