Google updates Search in a bid to combat fake news

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Google is committed to doing all it can to stop fake news and has promised to stop “low-quality” websites featuring prominently in its search results.

Users will also be able to report offensive results after recent criticism that far right groups and hoaxers were “gaming” Google’s algorithm in order to appear at the top of search results.
Google’s search engine is driven by computer algorithms and has struggled to recognise the differences between credible sources and unsavoury websites.

Earlier this week, Google announced that it had assessed the quality of search results and afterwards adjusted its algorithm to promote more authoritative pages and punish those deemed to be “low-quality”.

Google also said that false or offensive statements would be checked manually by a moderator in order to stop them appearing in its Autocomplete feature.

In order to feature prominently in Google’s search results, fake news site employ shady tactics dubbed ‘Google bombing’.

These tactics include using other sites to link to the fake news website in order to make it look more credible or legitimate, as well as hiding text on a page which means it can not be read by humans but is still visible to Google’s search engine algorithms.

“In a world where tens of thousands of pages are coming online every minute of every day, there are new ways that people try to game the system,” Google’s Ben Gomes said in a blog post.

“In order to have long-term and impactful changes, more structural changes [to Google’s search engine]are needed.”

Other companies such as Facebook and Twitter have also come under increasing pressure the clamp down on “fake news”.

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