Google tweak aims to curb fake, misleading search results

Google on Tuesday announced changes to how it delivers and ranks internet searches, the latest effort by the tech giant to weed out "fake news" and offensive content.

The new initiative includes tweaks to the algorithm used by Google to deliver search results, while offering users more options to flag inappropriate content, including for "autocomplete," or the suggestions Google makes while someone is typing a search query.

"Our algorithms help identify reliable sources from the hundreds of billions of pages in our index," Google vice president of engineering Ben Gomes said in a blog post.

"However, it's become very apparent that a small set of queries in our daily traffic (around 0.25 percent), have been returning offensive or clearly misleading content, which is not what people are looking for."

Gomes said that Google is seeking to crack down on "new ways that people try to game the system."

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

"While this problem is different from issues in the past, our goal remains the same—to provide people with access to relevant information from the most reliable sources available."

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 US election.

Both firms have sought to cut off ad revenues to websites that promote false news, but have acknowledged they need to do more.

Gomes said the latest effort is part of an ongoing process and includes "real people who assess the quality of Google's " and provide feedback.

The tweak in ranking aims "to help surface more authoritative pages and demote low-quality content," he added.

Gomes said the effort aims to avert incidents that gained notoriety last year such as the high ranking of a website which claimed the Holocaust did not happen.

Additionally, Google will make it easier for users to flag inappropriate "autocomplete" suggestions and "snippets" of website after some past embarrassments.

"The content that appears in these features is generated algorithmically and is a reflection of what people are searching for and what's available on the web," Gomes said.

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

Gomes said the new system enables users to "inform us directly if you find sensitive or unhelpful ."

"We plan to use this feedback to help improve our algorithms," he added.

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Google targets 'fake news,' offensive search suggestions

© 2017 AFP

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Apr 25, 2017
So they will change the internet fundamentally, to favor major corporations like themselves and all their connections, like the given governments...over a 0.25% issue.

Bye the way, the descriptor for when corporations collude with the given government, in order to gain all done against the will of the people, this is the descriptor for "Fascism".

Sounds like selling freedom off for slavery, , all in favor of parenting, fences, and cages.

This is the worst kind of bargain that can be made.

I guess Goggle's motto is: "Always do evil".

As the president of the USA, Jimmy Carter, has been saying loudly and often, the USA is now an open oligarchy, ie, fascist and it has nothing to do with democracy. Not even in name - as a cover story.

It's open fascism these days. The people of the USA hate the government and it's corporations in tow/shadow, and the rest of the world hates the government and corporations of the USA.

There is only ONE outcome for this scenario.

Apr 25, 2017
@KBK, I think the purpose of Google's assault on fake news is to remove all of the BS sites setup by the rightwing groups (for example groups like many Koch funded climate change deniers. Cato Institute, Hartland Institute... etc etc ad-nauseum). Then you had all of the army of russian trolls during the past election that caused havoc Pile on all of the thousands of puppet rightwing blog sites with there crap. AM Radio with theirs. Fox news with theirs. Repeat and rehash. Then you have all of the dark-money slush fund organizations (almost everyone a rightwing stooge ) that bast political crap out whenever one of their buddies needs help. All it does is make politics more divisive and mean and divides the country. It's amazing the centrists and liberals even get 30% of the vote!

I think Google is doing a smart thing. It makes their news collection system more reliable and trust worthy, with less BS to filter when reading top picks of the day.


Apr 25, 2017
The USA government is Republican, controlling all 3 elected chambers. Are you saying that the Trump Republican government is coordinating Google's algorithmic changes to hold its results to some kind of truthfulness standard? How?

So they will change the internet fundamentally

Apr 25, 2017
Ah! howhot3! You realize that Google's effort are an effort to silence the right! But you make no mention of far-left liberal sites. Your ideology stands clear.

Search site results have been tweeked for years. I remember the early days of the internet, like 20 years ago, I used for searches. I would type in a simple phrase like "Baptist Church" and the first listings were homosexual websites.

At the time the bias was obvious. Now, things are becoming more subtle.

Apr 25, 2017
This comment has been removed by a moderator.

Apr 25, 2017
Ah! Bart_A! You brain washed freaking dope. If google is making an a move against the politics of a party, that would be obvious. No, what google is doing is getting rid of the OBVIOUSLY fake BS news that shows up on google searches. The fact that most of it is right wing, fascist tending crap only demonstrates how much the right would like to control you sheep! (Do you speak sheep?)

Apr 26, 2017
When you rightwingers cut the BS and stick to the facts you won't get past the filter. You could think of it as an evolutionary criterion, but you can't think of evolution without running to Fakes News for the theocratic antidote.

Ah! howhot3!

Apr 26, 2017
As annoying and detrimental as fake news may be, we should not be legislating for search engines, social media companies, etc. to deal with it.

Libel is a serious issue to be handled in the courts. If an individual or a group is found to be spouting deliberate lies: take them to court. Do not decide for me what is "fake" and what is "real".

The reality is that the state has no rightful place interfering with how we communicate with each other and the information that we have access to. Even if they are scared of more "fake news inspired" events like Brexit, Trump, etc(?).

In fact, I find it belittling that the government deems the populace unable to think critically for themselves: it is precisely this mentality that has led many to seek an alternative to the status quo.

If like many in power would have you believe, we have reached a point where people are unable to think objectively and critically about the information they consume, maybe radical change is indeed needed.

Apr 26, 2017
So they will change the internet fundamentally,

ya can always use another search engine if you think they are manipulating in a way you don't like. That costs you exactly...nothing.

The rest of us: we like to search for facts. I have no time for fantasy in my life (other than when I want to read a book or play a game)
If I don't have to slog through the fake news BS first and can get immediately to the sites that actually report what's happening (including cites and sources so it can be verified) then more power to 'em.

Apr 26, 2017
Where in this article is even the slightest hint of legislation defining what's fake news - or of any government role whatsoever (except as the passive subject of fake news)?

The American "free speech" model is failing to inform the public because it's been transformed into a literal "marketplace of ideas". More profitable (even if only in the shortest term) ideas drown out more truthful ideas, systemically by a news cartel. When foreign enemies bent on disrupting and undermining the USA by puts their own thumb on an already rigged scale, the tipping point arrives.

As annoying and detrimental

Apr 27, 2017
one thing is block other thing is select. If they block content i say nope, if you want more information look for it.

Apr 27, 2017
Google search cannot "block" content, it can only select. Google is not the Internet, it's only an index of what Google finds on the Internet, ranked by Google's internal valuations, now increasing the weight of the content's "accuracy" factor.

The validity and transparency of that accuracy factor is a legitimate public concern, since Google searching is an essential public accommodation.

one thing is block other thing is select.

May 01, 2017
Every search result in Google is PAID for. "Relevance?" Laughable.

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