Thursday, 22 June, 2017

Google Search update puts the heat on fake news

Google is updating its search to demote fake news Google is tweaking is search engine to fight fake news
Javier Burns | 27 April, 2017, 02:53

The move addresses criticisms that the search giant and other social platforms haven't done enough to combat the spread of fake news, an issue that came into focus during the recent USA elections.

Google announced the measures it intends to take to reduce the spread of fake news in a blog entry titled, "Our latest quality improvements for Search", posted by Ben Gomes, engineering vice president.

Google has also tweaked its search algorithms to ensure that "low-quality" content shows up lower in search results, which should minimize their reach.

New Search Quality Rater guidelines: Google has set-up a group of real people to evaluate the quality of Google's search results-give direct feedback on our experiments.

For the first time, users will be able to directly flag content that appears in Autocomplete and Featured Snippets in Google Search.

But until now it hasn't offered a comprehensive answer to its challenges with fake news, such as the recent finding that a top result on Google search for "Did the Holocaust happen" linked to a neo-Nazi site.

Google is taking further steps to fight fake news. Around 0.25% of daily queries return content which is either offensive, misleading, or not what the person was looking for. While these evaluators are not meant to directly affect page ranks of individual web pages, they flag search results as and when they deem necessary.

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If too much misleading information appears in Google's search results, the damage could go beyond harm to its reputation for reliability. These signals have now been adjusted (not explained how?) but Google mentions that it'll now enable them to surface more authoritative pages and demote low-quality content.

Google is making serious efforts to filter fake news, which the company says is the "most high profile" issue when it comes to people trying to game the search ranking system. Facebook tried to solve the problem last fall by implementing a verification mechanisms to combat fake news, but it's not clear that it's working.

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's new tools and methods are being announced the same week as Jimmy Wales, the co-founder of Wikipedia, announced plans to launch a news site called Wikitribune. The search snippets are boxes of concise information that appear above search results.

The company is also using teams of humans as part of an effort to get its algorithms to show more reliable information, Fortune reported on Tuesday.

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

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