Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 27th Apr 2017 20:30 UTC
Google

Google isn't planning to rid fake news from its search results - but it's trying to purge it from the top.

The Alphabet Inc. company is making a rare, sweeping change to the algorithm behind its powerful search engine to demote misleading, false and offensive articles online. Google is also setting new rules encouraging its "raters" - the 10,000-plus staff that assess search results - to flag web pages that host hoaxes, conspiracy theories and what the company calls "low-quality" content.

Good - but also possibly incredibly dangerous.

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Yeah
by WorknMan on Thu 27th Apr 2017 21:16 UTC
WorknMan
Member since:
2005-11-13

It's probably just going to convince people that the 'liberal elites' have taken over Google and are censoring the news. Then they'll just go somewhere else to find their fake news.

Reply Score: 4

RE: Yeah
by Flatland_Spider on Fri 28th Apr 2017 16:31 UTC in reply to "Yeah"
Flatland_Spider Member since:
2006-09-01

Alex Jones is launching InfoSearch today. It's backed by Roger Alis with curated sections by Bill O'Reilly and Glenn Beck. Ann Coulter wasn't invited to participate because it says she's female on her birth certificate.

Reply Score: 1

Comment by judgen
by judgen on Thu 27th Apr 2017 21:40 UTC
judgen
Member since:
2006-07-12

CNN is still on top, so google is not doing a very good job of filtering out fake news yet.

Reply Score: 5

RE: Comment by judgen
by Alfman on Thu 27th Apr 2017 23:38 UTC in reply to "Comment by judgen"
Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

judgen,

CNN is still on top, so google is not doing a very good job of filtering out fake news yet.



There's a difference between bias and fake. You may not like the liberal side of CNN, and that's fine, but they don't just make up facts and report them as being true. Things that have no basis in reality are the real problem.

So no, I don't think they should be targeted, and I don't think conservative sources should be targeted either for being conservative. To me this should not be a partisan debate, liars deserve to be called out regardless of their party affiliations.

Reply Score: 4

RE[2]: Comment by judgen
by model500 on Fri 28th Apr 2017 20:08 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by judgen"
model500 Member since:
2016-12-22

You may not like the liberal side of CNN, and that's fine, but they don't just make up facts and report them as being true. Things that have no basis in reality are the real problem.

like the Iraqis WMDs which were being confirmed by all media you mean?
if your average CNN, BBC, Fox etc. would be doing their job like they should, the actual fake news wouldn´t stand a chance.

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: Comment by judgen
by Alfman on Fri 28th Apr 2017 22:58 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Comment by judgen"
Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

model500,

like the Iraqis WMDs which were being confirmed by all media you mean?
if your average CNN, BBC, Fox etc. would be doing their job like they should, the actual fake news wouldn´t stand a chance.


To keep this fair, do you mind citing exactly what it is you are referring to? If you supply evidence, that could be informative, but so far all anyone is doing is throwing around generic accusations.

Anyways as I recall the information about the Iraqis weapons program came from the whitehouse itself. It's hard for me to see that as the media's fault. The media didn't invent those claims, the whitehouse is supposed to be a credible source.

Edited 2017-04-28 23:04 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE: Comment by judgen
by Alfman on Fri 28th Apr 2017 00:31 UTC in reply to "Comment by judgen"
Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

judgen,

CNN is still on top, so google is not doing a very good job of filtering out fake news yet.


Can I ask what query you did to get CNN on top? I've tested many queries just to see google's results on current topics, for example "north korea":

https://www.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl#q=north+korea

Here are google's results for the first page:
www.korea-dpr.com
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_Korea
www.washingtonpost.com
www.telegraph.co.uk/north-korea/
www.theguardian.com/world/north-korea
www.nytimes.com/topic/destination/north-korea
www.foxnews.com/.../north-korean-crisis-worst-ve-seen-top-navy-officer -warns.html
www.telegraph.co.uk/.../northkorea/.../Escape-from-North-Korea-How-I-e scaped-horror...
https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2016/07/28/north-korea.../...
ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2009/02/north-korea/oneill-text
www.aljazeera.com/topics/country/north-korea.html

Obviously YMMV, but in my results CNN shows up as the very last entry on the second page.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Comment by judgen
by JLF65 on Fri 28th Apr 2017 03:30 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by judgen"
JLF65 Member since:
2005-07-06

Just add "news" to your search terms and CNN goes to #3. I imagine he meant "top" meaning the top of the first page, not necessarily #1.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Comment by judgen
by Alfman on Fri 28th Apr 2017 04:29 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Comment by judgen"
Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

JLF65,

Just add "news" to your search terms and CNN goes to #3. I imagine he meant "top" meaning the top of the first page, not necessarily #1.


I noticed that too.

https://www.google.com/#q=news

It's on the first page, but not at the top of it. It looks like like the forth link, underneath google's own news site, fox news, and bbc. So other than google's own shameless self plug, I don't see much evidence for google playing favoritism with rankings. Fox new's higher popularity than CNN on cable seems to also be reflected in google's results.

I can see both sides of the issue, false information is definitely a problem (especially now with a president who promotes it), but I would like to see specific examples of what google is actually targeting. I feel uncomfortable that such an influential company having this much control over the web is not being more transparent than it is.

Edited 2017-04-28 04:48 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE: Comment by judgen
by Flatland_Spider on Fri 28th Apr 2017 16:34 UTC in reply to "Comment by judgen"
Flatland_Spider Member since:
2006-09-01

Login and start inflating your Google bubble.

Reply Score: 1

bias
by nicubunu on Fri 28th Apr 2017 06:23 UTC
nicubunu
Member since:
2014-01-08

Like everyone, I *do* dislike fake news, still this can lead to a huge slippery slope which hides everything except pop culture and group think.
Also, 10000 <s>censors </s>raters, compared with the number of languages used on the web is very low. They may provide enough for English and maybe 5-6 other languages, but the rest can't possibly be covered.

Reply Score: 2

Really?
by FooBat on Fri 28th Apr 2017 06:50 UTC
FooBat
Member since:
2016-09-08

Absolutely everything can be "potentially incredibly dangerous". No point in adding this ambiguous and universal "truth" if you don't have anything to comment.
Fake news are _actually_ incredibly dangerous, so I would take "potentially" dangerous measure to counter actual danger without thinking twice. Fake news are already doing lots of damage, so Google's measure to fight them is very welcome.

Reply Score: 1

Censorship is bad
by Cyberology on Fri 28th Apr 2017 09:48 UTC
Cyberology
Member since:
2017-04-28

So Google basically tells us that we are too dumb to think for ourselves to decide what is true and what is false in addition to being too emotionally fragile to handle offensive content. Instead according to Google we ought to have blind faith in them since they will protect us like the intellectually feeble and emotionally fragile beings we are.

Personally I prefer free speech. Free tought requires free speech, and free tought is too important to surrender to companies like Google only so that we may be spared of having to think for ourself and from having our fragile emotions hurt by people who disagree with us.

Another thing that I disagree with is the notion that all conspiracy theories must be bad on behalf of being a conspiracy theory. Conspiracy theories are theories about conspiracies. Since conspiracies exist and can be discovered, some conspiracy theories may be true. Obviously there can also be false conspiracy theories but dismissing all conspiracy theories based on an emotional reaction to the word is throwing out the baby with the bathwater.

Luckily since I hardly use the Google search engine this will probably not bother me too much. Meanwhile you censhorship loving folks can enjoy your safe space at Google.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Censorship is bad
by Kochise on Fri 28th Apr 2017 10:43 UTC in reply to "Censorship is bad"
Kochise Member since:
2006-03-03

So Google basically tells us that we are too dumb to think for ourselves to decide what is true and what is false in addition to being too emotionally fragile to handle offensive content.

Buzzer when the D or F word happens in a show, the "Parental Advisory" on CDs, the R+ rating system, everything already warns you about potential harm to your sensibilities. It's not just Google that follows the trens and/or the law.

That people are pussies doesn't prevent them from roaring like lions.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Censorship is bad
by FooBat on Fri 28th Apr 2017 13:23 UTC in reply to "Censorship is bad"
FooBat Member since:
2016-09-08

So Google basically tells us that we are too dumb to think for ourselves to decide what is true and what is false in addition to being too emotionally fragile to handle offensive content.

Most people on the internet actually are.
And even for really smart ones it's not always possible to know for sure what is true and what is false if that's not person's area of expertise.

Luckily since I hardly use the Google search engine

Yeah, you keep thinking that... :-D

Reply Score: 1

RE: Censorship is bad
by Alfman on Fri 28th Apr 2017 13:46 UTC in reply to "Censorship is bad"
Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

Cyberology,

So Google basically tells us that we are too dumb to think for ourselves to decide what is true and what is false in addition to being too emotionally fragile to handle offensive content. Instead according to Google we ought to have blind faith in them since they will protect us like the intellectually feeble and emotionally fragile beings we are.

Personally I prefer free speech. Free tought requires free speech, and free tought is too important to surrender to companies like Google only so that we may be spared of having to think for ourself and from having our fragile emotions hurt by people who disagree with us.



I agree we need to be really careful with regards to censorship, however if you read the article this is not censorship. Rather google is adjusting the ranking function.

Maybe it makes sense to ask if ranking a page extremely low is effectively censorship? Obviously there is a technical distinction between the two, but since the supply of content is much, much greater than the amount of time anybody has to read it all, most of the content will not be read even though it's not technically being censored.

But here's the thing, ranking is not something google invented, it's an *intrinsic property* of every list. Like in SQL, even if you neglect to specify an ordering clause, the records will never the less have a rank generated through the mechanics of the database. So to the extent that putting things at the end of a very large list is like censorship, we can't morally object to the fact that results are ranked because this fact is not something that google or anyone else has any control over, they HAVE to be ranked and it's mathematically impossible for the majority of content to be shown on the first page (unless you have a small list to begin with).


Therefor since it doesn't make sense to object to the fact ranking is used, all we can consider is how the algorithm ranks results, and that's were things get a lot fuzzier.

They say this change is to prevent SEO hackers and even countries from swaying elections with false information, and I do condone that in principal. But on the opposite side there's a very real possibility that google can use their algorithms to deliberately sway voters and politicians themselves, which is downright evil. As I said earlier I don't like taking google (or any company) at their word, I think public interests call for more transparency from google.

So in summation, I think you can (and should) knock google down the morality ladder for not being more transparent with regards to how it ranks results, but not really for literal censorship.

Edited 2017-04-28 13:54 UTC

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: Censorship is bad
by Flatland_Spider on Fri 28th Apr 2017 15:35 UTC in reply to "RE: Censorship is bad"
Flatland_Spider Member since:
2006-09-01

The Google Bubble is something that has been known about for a while, and that has resulted in a lot of self-censorship since we basically train the algorithm to cater to us.

I'll go ahead and add ranking things is the entire point of a search engine. Somethings are more relevant, and some things are not. People can't expect everything to be ranked the same. At that point, just put a random button on a page, and people can take whatever they get. You're looking for information on Seagulls? Here's a article on baking bread.

Further more, Google is a private company that happens to provide a freely available service, and when that service is used, people enter Google's world. If they don't feel exposing their algorithm would give them a competitive advantage, then they don't have to, and that is their prerogative. If they feel prioritizing one aspect, authenticity/reputation, provides a better service and adds value to their brand, then they can adjust things as they see fit.

It's also not like they said they would remove the links based on a government order outlawing the knowledge (even though it's propaganda people make up), which would be real censorship, they just said they would give additional weight to other criteria. It's like bookstores putting the Adult section way in the back in a dark corner. They aren't censoring it; they just aren't emphasizing it because they don't feel it adds value to their brand.

They're managing their brand and adjusting the algo to provide relevant results, like they've done in the past, so there is no morality here at all. If they were working with a totalitarian government and feeding search results back to them which resulted in people losing their lives, then there would be some moral ground to stand on. Here, it's a business being a business.

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: Censorship is bad
by Alfman on Fri 28th Apr 2017 16:30 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Censorship is bad"
Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

Flatland Spider,

They're managing their brand and adjusting the algo to provide relevant results, like they've done in the past, so there is no morality here at all. If they were working with a totalitarian government and feeding search results back to them which resulted in people losing their lives, then there would be some moral ground to stand on. Here, it's a business being a business.


I understand your point of view, but I think it's misguided to dismiss the morality question so quickly. You are right google is a business and not a government, but we must not ignore that their actions do have very significant impacts on society anyways. Google has both the power to make your company unimaginably successful, or to wipe out all your new prospects. Whether we like it or not, this is what has happened to e-commerce.

Or just as troubling, just think, a congressman looking up information prior to passing legislation, well google could mess with the filter bubbles to get more favorable results. Reasonable people might assume search engines don't do this, but it's not really in any law or contract that I'm aware of.

Mind you I'm not asserting that google is factually doing this. After all I have no evidence and due to the lack of transparency it would be difficult to prove if they were. But there is no denying that they are in an incredibly powerful position to mess with access to information.

From a legal point of view, you could be correct, but from a moral point of view would you concede that what google does with it's algorithms behind closed doors can in fact have very moral implications for the public?

Edited 2017-04-28 16:46 UTC

Reply Score: 2

This is Free Speech
by Flatland_Spider on Fri 28th Apr 2017 16:26 UTC in reply to "Censorship is bad"
Flatland_Spider Member since:
2006-09-01

You have a misunderstanding of what censorship is. Censorship is outlawing and removing knowledge or speech by the state. This is neither. Google is a private company, and they aren't removing the links.

Google is improving their service. Services being full of useless crap is what took Yahoo! down, and Google is intent on making sure their services are usable.

So you're saying the propaganda spouted by the those mouth pieces is legitimate? Let me break it to you, it's not, and it deserves to be flushed because it's shit.

This is free speech. Your rights aren't being infringed upon, and you can choose not to patronize Google. You can still go to Infowars, talk-radio, and Fox News to get all the propaganda you want, and I can tell you that is a bunch of crap they're spewing. You don't get special attention because you feel your opinions are more relevant even though they aren't backed up by any sort of evidence.

In fact, your comment is specifically anti-free speech. since you don't feel that Google has the right to express themselves as they see fit. They can express themselves as they would like regardless if you agree with that or not. (There are bounds to this, of course, based on the life, liberty, and freedom Venn diagram.)

Some conspiracy theories have turned out to be true, like the NSA stuff, but they should be treated with skepticism until there is more evidence to back them up.

Also, they're hypothesises, and not theories. If it was a theory, it would be news and not in the realm of folktales.

Did Alex Jones start his own search engine?

Reply Score: 1

RE: This is Free Speech
by Alfman on Fri 28th Apr 2017 16:37 UTC in reply to "This is Free Speech"
Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

Flatland Spider,

You have a misunderstanding of what censorship is. Censorship is outlawing and removing knowledge or speech by the state. This is neither. Google is a private company, and they aren't removing the links.


Actually anyone can censor information. Obviously governments, but also publishers, television networks, websites, even comments in blogs can be censored (and often are). I'll grant you that not all censorship is at the same level as government censorship, but it still happens.


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Censorship
Censorship is the suppression of speech, public communication, or other information that may be considered objectionable, harmful, sensitive, politically incorrect or inconvenient as determined by governments, media outlets, authorities or other groups or institutions.

Governments, private organizations and individuals may engage in censorship. When an individual such as an author or other creator engages in censorship of their own works or speech, it is referred to as self-censorship. Censorship could be direct or indirect, in which case it is referred to as soft censorship. It occurs in a variety of different media, including speech, books, music, films, and other arts, the press, radio, television, and the Internet for a variety of claimed reasons including national security, to control obscenity, child pornography, and hate speech, to protect children or other vulnerable groups, to promote or restrict political or religious views, and to prevent slander and libel.

Direct censorship may or may not be legal, depending on the type, location, and content. Many countries provide strong protections against censorship by law, but none of these protections are absolute and frequently a claim of necessity to balance conflicting rights is made, in order to determine what could and could not be censored. There are no laws against self-censorship.

Reply Score: 2

RE: This is Free Speech
by Alfman on Fri 28th Apr 2017 17:12 UTC in reply to "This is Free Speech"
Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

Flatland Spider,

I should have also stated that I agree with you about the rational for demoting sites with false information; it is good that google is trying to do something about it. But as stated in my earlier post there's always potential for abuse if it's not done transparently.

Reply Score: 2

RE: This is Free Speech
by Cyberology on Fri 28th Apr 2017 22:46 UTC in reply to "This is Free Speech"
Cyberology Member since:
2017-04-28


In fact, your comment is specifically anti-free speech. since you don't feel that Google has the right to express themselves as they see fit. They can express themselves as they would like regardless if you agree with that or not. (There are bounds to this, of course, based on the life, liberty, and freedom Venn diagram.)


You misunderstood me. I did not say that Google does not have the right to do this.

Reply Score: 1

For a refresher
by Poseidon on Fri 28th Apr 2017 12:50 UTC
Poseidon
Member since:
2009-10-31

This wouldn't have been necessary if the FCC wood still actually serve its original purpose and regulated what can be considered news as journalism rather than someone writing an opinion piece and slapping the word news to it. I believe the change was enacted in the early 90s in USA and it allowed for companies such as gossip sites to propel to the top of "news" spheres, and inevitably, propaganda also became news, and any criticism of x or y propaganda became "fake news" to the current administration. Perversion of language and obfuscation is the game and they're already shaping opnin of people that consume information online, having a whole generation that never had journalism as news and instead consumes opinion pieces as "news".

Reply Score: 2

RE: For a refresher
by Flatland_Spider on Fri 28th Apr 2017 15:55 UTC in reply to "For a refresher "
Flatland_Spider Member since:
2006-09-01

I'm going to point to the consolidation of media companies thanks to Bill Clinton's deregulation, and dropping the regulations on equal time to opposing candidates, which I don't remember if that was Clinton too.

Before there was lots of competition in the market, and they could carve out markets for themselves, and now they are part of large corporations focused on entertainment. News has always been about entertaining people to sell ad space, but after the mergers Entertainment Weekly became the prototype news show.

Discrediting the media and funneling people to select news sources has been a right-wing cause for over 20 years now. The talk about "the liberal mainstream media" from the 90s was all about getting people to tune out regular news sources and tune into anointed news sources like right wing talk-radio (Rush Limbaugh, Alex Jones), right wing websites (Infowars), and right wing news channels (Fox News). There they could control the message and indoctrinate people.

Reply Score: 1

They will tell you what you must believe
by elbing on Fri 28th Apr 2017 13:20 UTC
elbing
Member since:
2016-05-27

We claimed 20 years ago against Microsoft criteria for searches and results in MSN. I'm glad to see that in 2017, we're enough stupids now to believe that this is good. Maybe in 2035, when humankind would walk over Mars, our knowledge will exclude all of that we want to believe it's a lie valued by a private company predating the internet. Then happiness will be reached.

Reply Score: 1

More BS
by icicle on Sat 29th Apr 2017 20:28 UTC
icicle
Member since:
2013-12-07

This is only the beginning. Wait until they slide into outright censorship. We the people shouldn't be told what is fake and what is not. Let us decide for ourselves without bias which can be fabricated to suit political agendas.

Reply Score: 1

Partisan control?
by cjcox on Mon 1st May 2017 17:00 UTC
cjcox
Member since:
2006-12-21

Alphabet/Google (whatever) is very very very partisan. In other words, "fake news" is anything pro-capitalism, pro-America or pro-Trump.

Just saying...

I find the idea sad and humorous.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Partisan control?
by Megol on Mon 1st May 2017 20:52 UTC in reply to "Partisan control?"
Megol Member since:
2011-04-11

Alphabet/Google (whatever) is very very very partisan. In other words, "fake news" is anything pro-capitalism, pro-America or pro-Trump.

Just saying...

I find the idea sad and humorous.


I also find that idea sad and humorous. Google isn't anti-capitalism, it isn't anti-US* and nor anti-trump. One have to be pretty stupid to think so.

(* I guess you meant anti-Amerikkka - but Google as a corporation isn't really against that either)

Reply Score: 2