Google has just launched an attack on “fake news and problematic content,” including “rumors, urban myths, slurs or derogatory topics.” That is good news for anyone (and any organization) plagued by such issues. It is bad news for low-quality content, fake links and other tactics used to trick Google into suppressing as well as raising online content.
We like it. Now you, the consumer, can flag false, biased, offensive and inaccurate content that Google brings up on search suggestions. You can also include a note that explains why Google should remove it. Equally beneficial, the Internet can potentially become a fairer playing field.
Google knows it has a search quality problem. It’s been plagued since November with concerns about fake news, disturbing answers and offensive search suggestions appearing at the top of its results. “Project Owl” is an effort by the company to address these issues, with three specific actions being announced today.
In particular, Google is launching:
- a new feedback form for search suggestions, plus formal policies about why suggestions might be removed.
- a new feedback form for “Featured Snippets” answers.
- a new emphasis on authoritative content to improve search quality.
“Problematic searches” is a term I’ve been giving to a situations where Google is coping with the consequences of the “post-truth” world. People are increasingly producing content that reaffirms a particular world view or opinion regardless of actual facts. In addition, people are searching in enough volume for rumors, urban myths, slurs or derogatory topics that they’re influencing the search suggestions that Google offers in offensive and possibly dangerous ways.
“These are problematic searches, because they don’t fall in the clear-cut areas where Google has typically taken action. Google has long dealt with search spam, where people try to manipulate its results outside acceptable practices for monetary gain. It has had to deal with piracy. It’s had to deal with poor-quality content showing up for popular searches.
“Problematic searches aren’t any of those issues. Instead, they involve fake news, where people completely make things up. They involve heavily-biased content. They involve rumors, conspiracies and myths. They can include shocking or offensive information. They pose an entirely new quality problem for Google, hence my dubbing them “problematic searches.”
Read his full article: Google’s ‘Project Owl’ — a three-pronged attack on fake news & problematic content.