One of the main issues facing the media today is ‘fake news’, but this is not a recent issue and has in fact been around since the Middle Ages.
The difference now is that we live in a digital age where anyone can post information thanks to platforms such as WordPress and share this information through the use of Social Media.
One of the more recent instances of ‘fake news’ was during the 2016 US Presidential Elections where Donald Trump accused CNN’s Jim Acosta of being fake news during his first press conference as President-elect. After this, the term ‘fake news’ gained widespread interest and started getting searched a lot.
Following this, many platforms such as Facebook, were subject to scrutiny. But let’s look at this in more detail in this post.
You may have noticed recently that Google has implemented features that allows users to report results and search suggestions if they find them to be ‘fake’ or negative in some way.
This is thanks to Project Owl.
Google is not one to usually meddle in its own algorithms except for users who try to game its algorithms for higher rankings. However, due to the fact that there was such an outrage, Google decided to take action which therefore lead to the introduction of Project Owl.
The three main areas Google is looking to tackle with the release of Project Owl include:
- A feedback form for search suggestions
- A feedback form for featured snippets
- Putting emphasis on authoritative content
Firstly, let’s have a look at search suggestions.
As you can see, above is a list of search suggestions for a given search query which brings back a few negative results. If you look to the bottom right you will see a link which says report inappropriate predictions. If clicked, this will bring up the first of the forms mentioned above.
This is where users will be able to report the specific search suggestions they find ‘fake’ or negative. However, Google has said that once reported, that specific search suggestion won’t immediately be removed unless a lot of users report the same search suggestion.
The idea behind this is to allow Google to tweak its algorithm to help remove and prevent more negative and ‘fake’ entries from appearing.
The next change comes from featured snippets that usually appear when a user searches a question.
Situated in the same place as the search suggestions is a link which says ‘feedback’. Clicking this will bring up a similar form to the one for the search suggestions which allows users to give their feedback regarding the featured snippet that appeared.
The last of the current changes comes from trying to boost authoritative content. Google started this last December by making some algorithm changes but is now looking to add to this change by instructing search quality raters to report any content that they find to be negative.
While it’s good to see Google taking action to try and remove all ‘fake’ and negative results from its search engine, a lot of it seems to come from submissions from its users. This could very well work but it also leaves room for it to be either ignored or even abused.
What do you think?
Are you happy with Google’s changes?
Do you think the changes will work as intended?