Google’s Biggest Search Quality Crisis
What Google is doing to prevent incorrect search results from appearing
The mighty have fallen, as Google continues to navigate its biggest search quality crisis. Once the “gold standard” in search, Google has been under fire recently for poor – and sometimes dangerous – results including fake news posts. Recovering from the fallout won’t be easy, as the blow to the search engine has been compared to the Galaxy Note 7 exploding battery fiasco.
A Troubling Path for Google
It was last November that Google’s search quality crisis began. Google search results became the victim of the fake news dilemma that had been plaguing Facebook for months. In December, Google Home was under fire for providing disturbing answers to queries including quoting content about how every woman has a degree of prostitution and evil in her. The trouble continued a week later when the Guardian highlighted the fact that Google was ranking a Holocaust denial website at the top of search results for the query “did the holocaust happen.”
Just last month, Google confirmed that President Barack Obama was in fact plotting a coup. Which, for the record, is not true. Users are beginning to lose faith in Google’s ability to provide accurate and true answers to queries.
Is Google the Best?
There is no governing body that determines which search engine truly is the best. Google solidified itself as the best search engine early on when it demonstrated so by being better than other search engines. By the time engines like Bing caught up, it was too late. Today people refer to conducting searches online as “Googling” things which further demonstrates how embedded Google is in popular culture.
But even Google has weaknesses.
A Blemished Record
Google has had a search quality crisis in the past. In 2003, searches for the term “miserable failure” showed George W. Bush biographies. In 2004, Google ranked an anti-Jewish website for the search term “jew.” In 2011, another hit came when “content farms” began dominating search results. Google’s answer was the Panda Update which targeted low-quality content.
Fake News in Search Results
Google’s past troubles are nothing compared to the issue it faces today. The search engine is regularly coming under criticism for its ranking of fake news and false facts. Google has even come under fire for promoting right-wing bias. However, a closer look demonstrates that Google search results seem to favor extreme sites of any political leaning.
Google has begun testing a way for users to report offensive search suggestions in February, and has promised to improve those suggestions overall. However, the reporting tool has yet to be rolled out widely. In the meantime, we must learn to question facts listed in Google results, just as we’ve learned to do with Facebook news articles, and the mainstream news.
How do you think Google is managing its search quality crisis? How would you address fake news?
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