How does Google fight Disinformation in the Search Results?

Disinformation, otherwise referred to as ‘fake news’, is an issue we all become vulnerable to from the moment we step foot onto the internet; and the widespread of such information seems to have grown rapidly over recent years. Of course, we’re all going to have different perspectives and opinions over what should be considered under the term of fake news, though, this becomes increasingly more problematic with the introduction of individuals making malicious and deliberate attempts to mislead others.

Google was recently seen to publish details of how the company combats the amount of disinformation found over its Search, YouTube, and News platforms. The team also admitted that it can be a challenge fighting the disinformation being spread, as trying to determine the intentions behind content being produced by its users is a task that can often prove near-impossible. However, the company has framework in place designed to help them with tackling this extensive issue, consisting of three various strategies.

1. Making Content Count.

The information that can be found across all Google platforms is ranked using a system of algorithms geared towards producing useful content at the top of the search results. This method ensures that all information presented to the user searching for it is of relevance and does not foster ideological viewpoints that could create a bias within the content shown. By taking this action, the volume of fake news showing up in both ads and organic searches should be severely minimised, reducing the overall spread of disinformation.

2. Providing Users with more Context.

The Google team also have mechanics in place to provide its users with additional context. These systems include the knowledge panels, fact-checking labels, feedback buttons on the Search and YouTube platforms as well as advertised products, ‘why this ad?’ options on Google Ads, ‘Full Coverage functions on Google News and, finally, ‘Breaking News’ panels found on YouTube. These options being made available can help to dramatically reduce the spread of disinformation through unintentional means; and thus reduce the chances of fake news being displayed on the platform all together.

3. Counteract Malicious Users.

Unfortunately, whether a piece of content is considered to be accurate cannot be verified through the use of Google’s algorithms alone, as there are many more aspects seen to play a role in the identification of misinformed news. However, Google has invested in a range of systems, relying on factors such as human reviews, which set out to reduce the behaviours linked to the widespread of disinformation; like those of spammers.

By taking these actions to reduce the amount of fake news being spread over all of the Google platforms, including Google Search, YouTube, Google Ads, and Google Display, the company seems to be well on their way to decreasing the overall amount of disinformation being spread permanently. The production of this type of information may be a problem still currently on the rise, but with the right actions in place, the combatting of such may still prove successful.