Google ropes in user feedback to help battle fake news

Posted April 27, 2017

The move addresses criticisms that the search giant and other social platforms haven't done enough to combat the spread of fake news, an issue that came into focus during the recent United States elections.

Google will depend on its users to help scrub its search results of fake news.

The volume of fake news, low quality, offensive, misleading and false information is increasing day by day. The problem has changed its shape a little but Google is still committed towards its long-term efforts of improving upon the info displayed in any user's search results.

It is making structural changes and improvements to search rankings, making it easier for people to provide feedback on search results and offering greater transparency around how search works. Now, quality raters can use more detailed tags meant to target pages that intentionally produce misleading information.

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The new feedback tools work in Google's autocomplete feature, which is when the search engine tries to anticipate what you're going to ask and makes it part of the suggestions while you're typing. Many offensive or fake news get more priority on Google search and displayed on top, which should not be. But as the criticism mounts, Google has taken more concrete steps to demote fake news. Some folks have also accused Facebook of influencing U.S. 2017 election by promoting posts in favor of the candidate. This document provides guidance that real people use to test and rank the company's search results. 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.

The issue of fake news or what used to be known as political propaganda, came to the forefront during the presidential campaign in 2016, when it appears that the Russian government was working to help create and spread fake news in an effort to derail the campaign of Hillary Clinton.

Social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and WhatsApp are often blamed for the seemingly unstoppable influence of factually inaccurate "fake" news on a large, gullible section of the masses worldwide. And if the boxes contain erroneous information users can directly tell the company to give feedback about the usefulness of the information. Google is adding a feature to allow searchers online to flag these instances with a feedback form.

The term "fake news" has now become a common one for the general public, but it started on the internet as sites began popping up that posted content that was, at best, misleading and, at the worst, flat out false or offensive.