Google Launches Efforts To Flag False, Offensive Content In Search Results


The days of fake news sites may soon be over, if Google can have its way.

Google is deploying an army of "quality raters" to help the search company flag potentially false sites — or fake news — and those that contain "upsetting and offensive" search results. This effort coincides with the tech industry's efforts to combat fake news site, such as Facebook's "Disputed" tag. Interestingly, Google itself was involved in a confusion when its Google Home spread fake news recently.

Using data mined and tested by human quality raters, Google hopes to design its algorithm that will soon automatically flag offensive and factually incorrect news sites.

Google Goes On An Offensive Against Offensive Sites

According to one exclusive report, Google is using 10,000 human quality raters to flag what they deem as "Upsetting-Offensive." By Google's standards, this flag should be used only on:

• Content that promotes hate or violence against a group of people based on criteria including (but not limited to) race or ethnicity, religion, gender, nationality or citizenship, disability, age, sexual orientation, or veteran status
• Content with racial slurs or extremely offensive terminology.
• Graphic violence, including animal cruelty or child abuse.
• Explicit how­ to information about harmful activities (e.g., how tos on human trafficking or violent assault).
• Other types of content which users in your locale would find extremely upsetting or offensive.

Google wanted to winnow upsetting and offensive search results from "factually accurate source of historical information." Google used the search query "holocaust history" as an example to demonstrate the two kinds of search results.

One is from a white supremacist site that quality raters can flag as offensive and upsetting as it is clearly anti-Semitic and racist. Thus, the search result deserves to be flagged.

The other search result shows a History Channel information about the Holocaust during World War II. While the subject matter of Holocaust itself is upsetting and offensive (i.e. factual crimes against the Jews), the site contains factually accurate information that the person searching for it might find useful.

So what happens to search results flagged as Upsetting-Offensive? Nothing, according to Google. It is not a demotion nor will it affect Google's actual search engine. However, the learnings can be used by Google to write better algorithms for its system.

Thus, the flags can help Google in the future how to automatically identify upsetting or offensive content. If this happens, flagged offensive content will less likely appear on search results of people actually looking for facts. However, the flagged content will still appear in search results of those actively seeking for such results (e.g. white supremacist site).

Flagging Fake News

Google's efforts come in light of the hot-button issue of "fake news," with no less than U.S. President Trump mouthing the word all the time whenever he clashes with the media. But what is fake news?

More often than not, fake news sites are those created to deliberately spread disinformation, hoaxes, propaganda, conspiracy theories, and "alternative facts," all of which are written in news form. While some are clearly written for humorous intentions, some fake news sites are notoriously offensive and meant to push a propaganda. They get propagated via the widespread of social media like Facebook, which itself has launched a war against fake news sites.

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