Google Tweaked Algorithm After Rise In US Shootings

A senior search engineer at Google revealed that the company had to tweak its algorithm to combat misinformation after mass shootings. The Guardian reports: “In these last few years, there’s been a tragic increase in shootings,” Pandu Nayak, who joined the company 14 years ago to work on its search engine, said. “And it turns out that during these shootings, in the fog of events that are unfolding, a lot of misinformation can arise in various ways. “And so to address that we have developed algorithms that recognize that a bad event is taking place and that we should increase our notions of ‘authority’, increase the weight of ‘authority’ in our ranking so that we surface high quality content rather than misinformation in this critical time here.”

Authority, by Google’s definition, means pages that comply with the company’s search quality evaluator guidelines, a 166-page document (PDF) that the company distributes to its 16,000 search quality raters. Those employees are responsible for checking tweaks to Google’s algorithm to ensure that they give the best results, rating search results on two scales: one that marks whether the searcher’s needs are met (if the search is for “Google Jobs,” for instance, a maps result showing the location of Google’s head office “fails to meet” needs, while the company’s career’s page “fully meets”), and a second that marks the page’s quality, defined over 80 pages of the guidelines with “very high quality MC” (main content), “very high level of E-A-T” (expertise, authoritativeness, trustworthiness) and “very positive reputation.”

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