Google cleans up search to fight fake news

Rosie Baker
By Rosie Baker | 27 April 2017

Google is introducing a number of measures to clean up its search results and tackle fake news.

In a blog post by Ben Gomes, VP of engineering, Google admitted that in some instances its search results have been returning “shocking or offensive" results.

Gomes says: “Our algorithms have always had to grapple with individuals or systems seeking to 'game' our systems in order to appear higher in search results—using low-quality 'content farms', hidden text and other deceptive practices. We've tackled these problems, and others over the years, by making regular updates to our algorithms and introducing other features that prevent people from gaming the system.”

The three new measures are designed to tackle the new ways people are 'gaming' its search results, with fake news being the highest priority.

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.

Gomes says the phenomenon of fake news, which leads to the spread of misleading, low quality, offensive or false information, is different to issues it has faced in the past but that Google's aim is the same: “to provide people with access to relevant information from the most reliable sources”.

Google has been through the ringer in recent months with YouTube copping a major backlash over brand safety concerns. Global and local brands have put a hold on digital video spending after ads were found to appear against unacceptable content.

It has already introduced a number of measures elsewhere across its assets to tackle brand safety including new controls on YouTube, a “Brand Care Playbook” issued to advertisers, an overhaul of its advertising policies, a push into artificial intelligence and machine learning solutions,

Google Australia managing director Jason Pellegrino is speaking at the AdNews Media + Marketing Summit on 12 May, in a frank fireside chat with Nicole Sheffield, NewsCorp chief digital officer. Get tickets here: 


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