Google targets 'fake news,' offensive content

Posted April 26, 2017

"This can sometimes lead to results that are unexpected, inaccurate or offensive".

Google said its improved algorithm would prevent incidents like Holocaust deniers popping up if you search "did the Holocaust happen", which occurred in December.

The company is now allowing users to flag results that are offensive or unhelpful, in both the autocomplete suggestions and the featured results. The American company has also updated guidance to its employees who evaluate the quality of results produced by...

Google's Ben Gomes, a veteran who's been wrestling with the intricacies of search since arriving as one of the earliest employees, believes it is now on the path to getting this right. "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", Gomes said in the blog. Facebook has been working hard to combat the spread of fake news on the world's largest social network and now the world's most popular online search engine is taking some steps of its own to combat the menace of fake news.

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Google also says its algorithms have now been trained to demote "low quality" content based on signals like whether the information comes from an "authoritative" page.

"While our search results will never be flawless, we're as committed as always to preserving your trust and to ensuring our products continue to be useful for everyone", Gomes wrote.

This will enable Google to rank more authoritative sources highly while downranking fake content.

Vice president of engineering at Google Search, Ben Gomes, admits that people have been trying to "game" the system - working against the spirit of the goal of algorithms - to push poor-quality content and fake news higher up search results. To handle this it has rolled out tools allowing user feedback to flag questionable content that, in the long term, can help refine results and identify bad players in the media space.

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Gomes added an interesting fact at the end. Small for Google is still a potential avalanche of unwelcome content for users.

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.

"That feedback is then used to reshape the algorithms - the recipes, if you will -that Google uses".

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

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