Google targets 'fake news,' offensive search suggestions

Kristi Paul
April 27, 2017

To put an end to this growing "fake news" epidemic, Google has made huge structural changes in its search algorithm and also introduced feedback system to rank the news and other infotainment websites.

Lately, the term "fake news" has garnered much attention among top internet companies like Facebook, Google, Twitter, Wikipedia, etc. Facebook has been facing flak from netizens for the spread of fake news on its platform.

Google is retooling its powerful search engine to prevent sites peddling fake news, hoaxes and conspiracy theories from appearing in its top results, the Wall Street Journal reports. The google update named "Project Owl" allows users to report the problems that they may face in their search results. Humans will now be working in tandem with Google's complex algorithms to help display more reliable information on Google Search results pages.

Users can also provide direct feedback and flag problematic results from Google's AutoComplete and Featured Snippets field, which displays answers to search questions in a dedicated field above search results.

To address the problem, Google began revising the closely guarded algorithms that generate its search with the help of 10,000 people who rate the quality and reliability of the recommendations during tests.

Google has commenced tweaking its search algorithm to curb unscrupulous circulation of fake news and hate speeches online.

For example, Google will train its evaluators-the people who vet search results-to better spot "low-quality" sites and make it easier for users to flag inaccurate results. Ben Gomes, vice-president of engineering at Google, promises that such results "are less likely to appear" in the future. Many websites are showing fake or offensive content which mislead others. "While our search results will never be ideal, we're as committed as always to preserving your trust and to ensuring our products continue to be useful for everyone". It has been proven that the circulation of fake news across social media and even on Google was one of the primary reasons for Donald Trump getting elected as the President of the United States.

The tweak in search ranking aims "to help surface more authoritative pages and demote low-quality content", he added. This does require that users care enough about improving Google Search for everyone or have been offended strongly enough to take action.

Google has repeatedly downplayed the prevalence of fake-news. The company didn't specify how many queries that really is - but the search-engine-focused news site Search Engine Land reported that Google estimated in 2015 that it handles 3 billion searches per day. The search snippets are boxes of concise information that appear above search results.

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