Google Battles Fake News in Search With New Feedback Mechanism, Ranking Changes

Google is entering the fight against fake news

Following pushback over fake news being surfaced in search results, Google on Tuesday introduced changes to the way it ranks websites in Search along with easier ways for people to provide feedback.

Autocomplete helps predict the searches people might be typing, while Featured Snippets appear at the top of search results showing a highlight of the information relevant to what people are looking for. But fake news isn't just the purview of the Russians.

The examples were pretty unsettling, including Holocaust denials, a claim that President Barack Obama was running for a third term, and a wide range of other conspiracy theories.

The search engine's parent company, Alphabet Inc., announced its plans to change a fundamental component of its algorithm that previously allowed false information to be sent straight to the top of its results pages.

To limit the spread of offensive or inaccurate search results, Google recently updated its Search Quality Rater Guidelines, which human evaluators use to gauge the quality of search results.

In addition, Google is adding new public feedback tools for its AutoComplete feature in its search bar.

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Questions are bound to be raised about whether this panel, which Google says is representative of its users, is impartial and objective.

The technology giant said it would allow people to complain about misleading, inaccurate or hateful content in its autocomplete function, which pops up to suggest searches based on the first few characters typed.

As part of this effort, Google is also getting more transparent about its products. He says there are trillions of searches on Google every year with 15 percent of them being new on a daily basis.

Google's Ben Gomes, a veteran who's been wrestling with the intricacies of search since arriving as one of the earliest employees, believes it is now on the path to getting this right.

The process for flagging a featured snippet error.

In recent months users have posted videos of a "smart device" responding with answers sponsored by racist or conspiratorial sites, such as false claims that former President Obama was plotting a coup, or allegations that four USA presidents had been members of the Ku Klux Klan (there is little evidence to suggest any US president was an active or former KKK member). "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", he wrote.

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