Google launches new effort to flag upsetting or offensive content in search
Using data from human "quality raters," Google hopes to teach its algorithms how to better spot offensive and often factually incorrect information.
Google is undertaking a new effort to better identify content that is potentially upsetting or offensive to searchers. It hopes this will prevent such content from crowding out factual, accurate and trustworthy information in the top search results.
“We’re explicitly avoiding the term ‘fake news,’ because we think it is too vague,” said Paul Haahr, one of Google’s senior engineers who is involved with search quality. “Demonstrably inaccurate information, however, we want to target.”
The effort revolves around Google’s quality raters, over 10,000 contractors that Google uses worldwide to evaluate search results. These raters are given actual searches to conduct, drawn from real searches that Google sees. They then rate pages that appear in the top results as to how good those seem as answers.
Guidelines that raters use have been updated with an entirely new section about “Upsetting-Offensive” content that covers a new flag that’s been added for raters to use. Until now, pages could not be flagged by raters with this designation.
The data produced by quality raters is used to improve Google’s search algorithms generally. In time, that data might have an impact on low-quality pages that are spotted by raters, as well as on others that weren’t reviewed.
For more, see our full story on Search Engine Land.