Monday, August 14, 2017 by Robert Jonathan
Google has published another update to its Quality Rater Guidelines that grades conspiracy theories as meriting a lower search results ranking. Some 10,000 search quality raters across the world work for Google on a contract basis to evaluate search results and algorithms after conducting real searches.
Join the upcoming March on Google this Saturday, August 19th, across nine U.S. cities.
Among other things, in furtherance of its anti-fake news agenda, the latest guidelines tweak addresses conspiracy theories and focuses primarily on international non-English results, according to The SEMPost.
Google wants the raters to look specifically at sites or pages where the conspiracy theories are presented as fact. “Presents unsubstantiated conspiracy theories as if the information were factual.”
And raters should rate them: “Lowest quality MC: demonstrably inaccurate content.”
Every responsible Google user wants to access content that is on the level, but as the Activist Post suggests, the free flow of information could be at risk with too wide-ranging a definition of conspiracy.
[W]ho decides what is and what isn’t real? Who are the companies behind this valiant effort to police Google’s search engine, and who watches the watchers?
Against that backdrop, Google has been accused of censorship within its organization (exemplified by this week’s firing of the software engineer who challenged its diversity-at-all-costs policy) and without.
Google critics maintain that the search engine giant has down-ranked independent journalism and natural medicine sites, including Natural News at one point, that don’t share its progressive worldview and destroy their web traffic in the process. Pushing a website far down the indexing pecking order can essentially doom an otherwise viable web portal.
Some controversy over Google-owned YouTube demonetizing certain political videos has already emerged, effectively leading to a form of revenue-loss censorship. Google recently launched a commendable if not overdue effort to block terrorist training content using screening software and its human Trusted Flagger group, which presumably seems to be a cohort similar to the quality raters. Google also says it is getting tougher with inflammatory religious and supremacist content, but there are some concerns about how broadly the term inflammatory will be interpreted as a practical matter.
Last year, The Intercept reported that Google execs and lobbyists were regular visitors at the Obama White House on a weekly basis and that at least 250 individuals participated in revolving door employment between Google and the Obama administration. (Related: Read more about search engine manipulation at Journalism.news.)
In June 2016, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange claimed that Google was actively engaged in trying to help Hillary Clinton become president. In a subsequently deleted video, SourceFed demonstrated that Google was allegedly manipulating auto-complete search results to bury negative information about Hillary Clinton.
Be sure to join the March on Google this Saturday, across nine U.S. cities.