Google cracks down on inaccurate and offensive content

The search giant is reportedly trying to better train its algorithms using a new flag for "Upsetting-Offensive" search results.

Richard Nieva Former senior reporter
Richard Nieva was a senior reporter for CNET News, focusing on Google and Yahoo. He previously worked for PandoDaily and Fortune Magazine, and his writing has appeared in The New York Times, on CNNMoney.com and on CJR.org.
Richard Nieva
2 min read

Google is targeting inaccurate information on its search engine.

Claudia Cruz/CNET

Google is the latest tech company to try to tackle the problems of fake news and offensive content.

The search giant is cracking down on search results that are upsetting or inaccurate, according to a report Tuesday by Search Engine Land.

It sounds like Google is taking a long-term approach to the problem. The company has introduced a new flag for "Upsetting-Offensive" results that the company's "quality raters" can use to mark content. Those quality raters are contractors Google uses around the world to evaluate search results.

But marking something as upsetting or offensive won't suppress the search result. Instead, it will train Google's algorithms in a more general sense, according to the report. The company has also updated its 200-page guide for quality raters, specifically calling out content that included "racial slurs" or "graphic violence."

Google didn't respond to a request for comment.

Fake news and questionable content has been top of mind for tech companies after the election of President Donald Trump in November. Both Google and Facebook have been criticized for not doing enough about misinformation circulating on their sites. And both of them have tried to address the problem by revising their advertising policies around inaccurate articles.

Facebook has even set up a system to partner with third party fact checkers and flag fake news.

"We're explicitly avoiding the term 'fake news,' because we think it is too vague," Paul Haahr, a Google senior engineer told Search Engine Land. "Demonstrably inaccurate information, however, we want to target."

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