Google targets 'fake news,' offensive search suggestions

Steps Google has taken to fix these negative results include changing the guidelines for Search Quality Raters, which tell the real people helping Google identify potentially offensive material what to look for in terms of bad results with more specificity.

Today, the search engine giant has introduced "structural changes." to shun the "spread of blatantly misleading, low quality, offensive or downright false information".

To fight this trend, Google is allowing users to report autocomplete suggestions that are either offensive, inaccurate, or just plain irrelevant to the intended search.

Although it also sells ads on its other services and independently owned websites, Google still makes most of its money from the marketing links posted alongside its search results. As such, Google promises it will get better at filtering out fake news in weeks and months to come. The new "This is misleading or inaccurate" feedback option seems apt for the John-Hanson-as-first-Black-president snippet.

Google also says its search algorithms have now been trained to demote "low-quality" content based on signals like whether or not the information comes from an "authoritative" page.

The search engine's algorithm has caused Google plenty of headaches in the past, with autocomplete giving offensive suggestions about women, Muslims and Jews.

Google announced on Tuesday that it is tweaking its search engine to scuttle misleading or false content, a major move for the company and the world considering Google's dominance in search. Google is adding a feature to allow searchers online to flag these instances with a feedback form.

"There is likely to be [helpful] signal in there, even through all the noise through abuse", says Mr. Nayak.

We've all seen our fair share of auto-fill phrases going in a freaky direction with just a few starting words, but some intentionally misleading ones can potentially divert a user away from more relevant search queries. But, it won't be using these assessments to determine single page rankings.

"There are people who are writing all kinds of things on the web", says Mr. Gomes, who said that one issue Google is having is finding high quality sources to promote in place of some of the more hair-raising content. "Journalists are not covering some of these conspiracy theories".

"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 explained.

  • Joey Payne