Published: Wed, April 26, 2017
Sci-tech | By Doreen King

Google targets 'fake news,' offensive search suggestions

Google targets 'fake news,' offensive search suggestions

Google gave few details on the mechanics of the change, beyond saying the shift will "help surface more authoritative pages and demote low-quality content", the Journal noted.

In a post Tuesday, Google announced several major changes to how it categorizes search results to stop inadvertently promoting sites with intentionally misleading or false articles. Finally, Google is adding more information on the technology behind its Search features on its website.

By now you're familiar with the problem of fake news.

But doing nothing to combat fake news would probably have caused even bigger headaches.

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Those results can trigger a public-relations backlash, as it did in December when a white supremacist site was featured prominently in search results about the Holocaust.

Google, once a vital tool for trolls to push fake news, is finally taking a stand against alternative facts in Donald Trump's America and beyond.

Since the U.S. election, several companies including Google and Facebook have taken steps to deal with false information that looks legitimate being passed through their products.

That effort will be assisted by what Google calls Search Quality Raters, real people who assess the quality of Google's search results.

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Google has launched its first significant drive to prevent fake news from dominating its search engine, pledging to ensure that results from reputable sources appear above conspiracy theories and racist material. Users can now report inaccurate or offensive snippets and autocomplete suggestions directly from the results page.

Users will see options to report bad information that shows up in "Featured Snippets" - a.k.a., the little summary boxes that appear at the top or sides of Google searches.

As part of this effort, Google is also getting more transparent about its products.

"Today, in a world where tens of thousands of pages are coming online every minute of every day, there are new ways that people try to game the system". 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. In the example Google provided, users can mark checkboxes to state whether a suggested search was hateful or sexually explicit.

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

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