Project Owl, and Google’s Attempt to Hit Fake News Where it Hurts

Google’s got a big problem, and it’s the same one that’s plaguing Facebook. How do you deal with fake news, when the truth is evolving in real time? A new update from the search engine, codenamed “Project Owl”, aims to try and curb the fake news epidemic. It’s also making some interesting changes to search, including adding a new feature to “autocomplete”.

What is Project Owl?

Project Owl is a new update that is aimed at curbing the impact of fake news and offensive searches. A new form will be deployed, and users can use this form to make suggestions to improve Google’s existing policies and search suggestions. A feedback form will also be implemented for answers that include a “Featured Snippet”, which often contain important links (such as to an existing Wikipedia page). The update also promises to improve the quality of search by pushing more authoritative content to the top, which seems to be a constant goal of the company’s.

Autocomplete and Problem Searches

Problematic searches are searches that spiral out of control. A good example are the numerous celebrity hoax deaths, where Google will autocomplete a person’s name with the word “death” appended. This perpetuates the myth that someone has died, and causes more outlets to report on it. The result is like an avalanche.

Autocomplete might also try and predict a search, but the results might be hateful or offensive. Google is implementing a new feedback form that the user can utilize to report whether a result was accurate, or if there was a problem such as hate speech or racism.

Giving the community more tools to police itself is never a bad thing, but Google is a very large entity. How many sites will be excluded over misunderstandings, or targeted campaigns aimed at taking a site down?

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