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Google updates search algorithm to push down fake news

Giving feedback on inappropriate featured answers

Google, on Tuesday, announced changes to its search algorithm in an attempt to push down fake news from its search results. The new updates include:

Emphasis on authoritative content
The new update aims to prioritise authoritative content over low-quality content. Ben Gomes, VP search at Google, explained in a blog post: “We combine hundreds of signals to determine which results we show for a given query—from the freshness of the content to the number of times your search queries appear on the page. We’ve adjusted our signals to help surface more authoritative pages and demote low-quality content so that issues similar to the Holocaust denial results that we saw back in December are less likely to appear.”

Content may be deemed authoritative based on signals such as how often other sites link to the site in question and the quality of the sites that link, the affiliation of a site with a university or verified news source. More information on how Google identifies high-quality content from low-quality content can be found here.

Direct feedback forms for users
The new update also lets users flag inappropriate autocomplete suggestions and featured snippet answers. “The content that appears in these features is generated algorithmically and is a reflection of what people are searching for and what’s available on the web. This can sometimes lead to results that are unexpected, inaccurate or offensive. Starting today, we’re making it much easier for people to directly flag content that appears in both Autocomplete predictions and Featured Snippets,” Gomes wrote in the blog.

Here’s how the new update works for autocomplete and featured answers:

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Giving feedback on inappropriate autocomplete suggestions. Via Google

Giving feedback on inappropriate featured snippet answers. via Google

Fight against fake news
The latest updates come following the backlash of 2016 US Presidential Election. Both Google and Facebook were blamed for the election of President Donald Trump by helping circulate fake news and misinformation. The latest announcement by follows its previous announcement earlier this year banning hundreds of spoof domains from its ad-exchange, Google AdSense. Google also introduced a fact-checking tag on its search results earlier this year.

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