dglobalnews.com Google rewrites its powerful search rankings to bury fake news
Published: Wed, April 26, 2017
Research | By Kayla Price

Google rewrites its powerful search rankings to bury fake news

Google rewrites its powerful search rankings to bury fake news

With more detailed Search Quality Rater Guidelines for low-quality pages (misleading information, unexpected offensive results, hoaxes and unsupported conspiracy theories), algorithms will begin demoting low-quality content.

The changes announced today reflects Google's confidence in a new screening system created to reduce the chances that its influential search engine will highlight untrue stories about people and events, a phenomenon commonly referred to as "fake news".

"We're taking the next step toward continuing to surface more high-quality content from the web", Gomes continued, adding, "This includes improvements in Search ranking, easier ways for people to provide direct feedback, and greater transparency around how Search works". It's a long way from flawless, nor do I expect the results will ever be ideal for every search.

Google was criticised past year for giving prominence to groups seeking to deny that the Holocaust took place. Ben Gomes, vice-president of engineering at Google, promises that such results "are less likely to appear" in the future.

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 objective of algorithms - to push poor-quality content and fake news higher up search results. Google executives claimed the type of web pages categorized in this bucket are relatively small, which is a reason why the search giant hadn't addressed the issue before.

Google is improving the methods it uses to evaluate sites, and is rolling out algorithmic updates to "surface more authoritative content" and demote fake news, Gomes wrote.

In particular, he said, many groups and organisations were using "fake news" to help spread "blatantly misleading, low quality, offensive or downright false information".

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Additionally, users can now flag autocomplete features and highlighted results that are offensive, false or otherwise problematic.

While Facebook has faced a backlash for the spread of fake news across its social network, Google has been criticized for results that leap to the top for specific queries.

At first, Google's excuse was that so much content is uploaded online that it's impossible to weed out every offender.

But the fact that searches such as "Is Obama planning a coup?" - or even "Who invented stairs?" - produced such questionable results meant it had to act.

In addition, Google is adding new public feedback tools for its AutoComplete feature in its search bar.

Gomes explained how Google has long worked to prevent attempts to game the news search ranking system and has worked to keep search results as authoritative and accurate as possible.

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

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