Google’s tirade against fake news and misleading information continues with the search giant announcing some new changes to its search algorithms to help stem the tide. In fact, Google has been into this for four months now as part of what has come to be known as Project Owl, though it is only now that they have acknowledged it publicly.
It is not that fake news has started to pilfer into Google’s search results en-masse, with an estimate putting the figure to just about 0.25 percent. However, even that figure can assume alarming proportions what with Google alone accounting for over a billion online searches every day.
Google announced they have overhauled the autocomplete feature as well so that derogatory suggestions do not crop up. And just in case someone find offense in some auto-suggested term or phrase, there would be real humans waiting to review once it is brought to their notice. You can do that via the ‘Report inappropriate predictions’ link that has now been added to the bottom left corner of the autocomplete prediction section.
Nothing drove home the point better than the last US presidential elections when seemingly incorrect information sought to improve the chances of Donald Trump. A search then had also thrown up some intriguing results, such as the then President Obama planning a coup, Trump has already won the elections or that the World War II had never seen the Holocaust.
What also makes Google’s drive against misleading and false information all the more tricky is the different manner every individual can treat a particular piece of information. A news item while being considered disgusting by some can also be savored by others.
Google also runs the risk of being labelled as opposing free speech or playing favorites if they tend to censor anything with the least chances of causing harm to their reputation. The challenge for the company would be to stick to the middle ground while still being seen as the most authoritative source of information online.
Google also stated they have 10,000 of its employees looking into the working of its closely guarded search algorithm to ensure acceptable quality of its search results. Likewise, the rating guidelines too have been thoroughly revised to ensure only that content that conforms to their strict quality apparatus get higher rating.
Google though isn’t alone in the battle as Facebook too is having to deal with a similar issue, that of fake news creeping into its news feeds. The social media giant also had been taking steps to redress the situation that includes collaborating with news organizations such as The Associated Press to help filter out fake or incorrect news.