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Google Is Changing Its Search Algorithm to Combat Fake News

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Google announced changes to its search algorithm Tuesday that will combat the dissemination of “fake news” and conspiracy theories through new ways to report inaccurate information.

The technology giant will change its search rankings to “help surface more authoritative pages and demote low-quality content,” a company executive said in a blog post. This feature aims to prevent issues like the Holocaust denial results that Google saw in December — which placed an article from a neo-Nazi white supremacist website at the top of search results. It will also allow people to report inaccurate, misleading or violent content seen in its autocomplete function, which shows suggested searches based off the first words typed into the Google search bar. A similar reporting feature will also be available for the featured snippets section, which highlights relevant information at the top of the page after a Google search is complete.

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“In a world where tens of thousands of pages are coming online every minute of every day, there are new ways that people try to game the system,” Ben Gomes, vice president of engineering for Google Search, said in the blog post. “The most high profile of these issues is the phenomenon of ‘fake news,’ where content on the web has contributed to the spread of blatantly misleading, low quality, offensive or downright false information.”

Google is not the only tech giant making an effort to combat fake news. Last month, Facebook released fact-checking tool for news articles posted on the social media platform. In December, the company announced plans to address the issue of fake news on its website.

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