By 16 March 2017 | Categories: news


With many social media platforms, Facebook in particular, trying to combat the scourge that is fake news, Google has recently adding its weight to the efforts. More specifically, it has asked its estimated 10 000 human "quality raters" across the globe to evaluate searches of content that is blatantly false or contains factually incorrect information. This in turn, will help the company's search algorithms better determine how search results should be ranked.

Google has given its raters a new "Upsetting-Offensive" tool to flag stories which can be used in when the following guidelines apply, according to the company:

  • 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.

Being flagged is not enough for a search result to get downranked, however, says Search Engine Land. Instead, the flagged results will be used by Google as data points for its own algorithm to better deal with this growing problem.

The reason for this, as The Verge points out, is to ensure that offensive stories are factually inaccurate too. In the example of Holocaust history, a documentary by the History Channel could be upsetting to some people, but still remain precise in the information it conveys. A Holocaust denier website article, however, would be both offensive and incorrect, and therefore warrant being flagged. The data points from it being flagged would then be added to the Google algorithm to better spot and downrank similar search results.

This looks to be a time intensive process, but hopefully it goes a long way to ensuring offensive search results get rightfully downranked.


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