Google to put a leash on fake news

Posted April 26, 2017

Google is also making it easier for people to flag offensive or inaccurate content that appears in Autocomplete and Featured Snippets - the block of information at the top of search results for certain queries, which was the subject of some controversy in March. Google says that while Search Rater feedback doesn't directly impact Search Ranking for individual pages, it does help them identify spots where the algorithm is falling down, and adjust accordingly.

Both Google and Facebook have taken steps in recent months to curb the spread of hoaxes and misinformation amid concerns these may have influenced voters in the 2016 United States election. Gomes used this as an example of the type of search result the changes are meant to bury. Besides trying to block fake news, Google has reprogrammed a popular feature to omit derogatory search suggestions.

We've all seen our fair share of auto-fill phrases going in a freaky direction with just a few starting words, but some intentionally misleading ones can potentially divert a user away from more relevant search queries.

Now both boxes have gone, and Google's almighty algorithm has been tweaked so that such content is less likely to rise to the top. Google is also setting new rules encouraging its "raters" - the 10,000-plus staff that assess search results - to flag web pages that host hoaxes, conspiracy theories and what the company calls "low-quality" content. Users can now report inaccurate or offensive snippets and autocomplete suggestions directly from the results page.

"The most high profile of these issues is the phenomenon of "fake news", where content on the web has contributed to the spread of blatantly misleading, low quality, offensive or downright false information".

The executive added that the user feedback mechanisms were created to "include clearly labelled categories so you can inform us directly if you find sensitive or unhelpful content".

Google's second tool "Ranking Changes" is for ranking pages on content.

Earlier this month, the tech giant started adding a "Fact Check" tag to some search results, showing whether or not the claims presented are true, false or somewhere in between.

"That feedback is then used to reshape the algorithms - the recipes, if you will -that Google uses". Those show up during a search session where Google will try to offer the most authoritative answer while it's in the process of finding your answer.

"They simply give feedback about whether the results are good".