Conspiracy-pushers, garbage factories that invent political stories, and other questionable websites rely, heavily, on Facebook and Google to promulgate their results across the internet. The two companies have already reacted to this by yanking ad support, but Google is about to go a lot further, by teaching its search engine to spot garbage and put it where it belongs.
The Verge has a good overview of Google’s new rules, which now ask the contractors vetting the site’s results to flag high-ranking links that are upsetting or offensive. The flag itself won’t kill the site’s page rank; for example, a page factually discussing genocide will be profoundly upsetting, but it’s not fake news. A site denying the Holocaust, on the other hand, would be dinged on certain search terms.
That said, people punching “white nationalism” into Google will still find sites about it no matter what. Google isn’t going to start de-indexing pages any time soon, no matter how tasteless some people find them. But over time, this will mean that sites that promote hate speech will be pushed further and further down the rankings, into the Siberia of the second page of results. Which means, more or less, fake news sites are on the way out.
(via The Verge)