Published: Wed, April 26, 2017
Research | By Elizabeth Houston

Google to Limit Offensive, Inaccurate Search Results

Google to Limit Offensive, Inaccurate Search Results

"We're taking the next step toward continuing to surface more high-quality content from the web", Gomes continued, adding, "This includes improvements in Search ranking, easier ways for people to provide direct feedback, and greater transparency around how Search works".

Deliberately misleading information, as well as outright fabrications, plagued the 2016 US presidential primary season and election.

Google also has reprogrammed a popular feature to omit derogatory suggestions from its automated recommendations of search requests. But if it's a query the search engine hasn't seen before, it has fewer sources of context to rely on.

Since time immemorial (1998) Google's bread, butter, and raison d'être has been search.

Why this matters: Google's efforts should be applauded, but it's unclear what difference this will make in the long run.

Fighting fake news can be tricky because in some cases what is viewed as being blatantly misleading by one person might be interpreted as being mostly true by another.

Holocaust denial has been a particularly hard result for Google to deal with. Fact Check attempts to adjudicate whether the information in question is truly accurate, using sources like Snopes.com. For the snippets, users can also report when the summaries are inaccurate. Google's latest tweak makes erroneous results harder to find.

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Google is retooling its powerful search engine to prevent sites peddling fake news, hoaxes and conspiracy theories from appearing in its top results.

You will see a feedback link in tiny print and if you click on it, you can provide feedback as to whether the source was accurate, used vulgar or hateful speech, is harmful or risky and whether you considered it harmful, unsafe or violent.

Google will also update its "Search Quality Rate Guidelines", which are used by human evaluators of Google's search engine results. As is typical of the more behind-the-scenes aspects of its ranking system, Google does not detail the specifics of these changes, but it did cite Holocaust denial results that appeared in December 2016 as an example of the type of problem it hopes to resolve.

Users can report suggestions for being hateful, explicit or violent.

Google users will start seeing the reporting options Tuesday.

Google does point out that these bad results are rare on its website with just 0.25 percent being offensive or clearly misleading. It's a long way from flawless, nor do I expect the results will ever be ideal for every search.

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