By Jake Taylor, Marketing –
When I was a teenager, I remember how my little brother would ask me the most outlandish questions. My mom, never knowing the answers to these obscure questions, would simply say, “Ask Google.” Sometimes he would take the effort to look things up and others times he would leave the question unanswered.
My brother, my mother and I all credited Google as a source of truth, which may not be wise. Google’s search algorithm relies heavily on Internet popularity — or how many incoming links the website has — as a ranking agent for search results. If my brother had wanted to know about vaccines, for instance, the first search results for vaccines on Google is a anti-vaccination website, which presents its information with a strong bias. This is not exactly an ideal result for well-balanced information, but since it has the most visitors and links, it comes up first.
Counting the Facts
To rectify this situation, Google is working on altering its search engine to produce more relevant, truthful results. By filtering through all of the trash that is on the Internet, Google hopes to make veracity a viable ranking quality on the web.
Theoretically, by counting the number of facts on any given webpage, Google will be able to see whether or not the webpage is truthful or not.
This feature could really come in handy to stop the spread of false information online. For example, I remember seeing an article on social media once that stated, “Kanye West scores 106 points against wheelchair basketball team.” I thought it was an incredibly funny prospect, even though it was quite obviously satirical.
Unfortunately, many people did not realize the facetious nature of the article, and as all viral Internet phenomena, do it spread like wildfire. The International Business Times even wrote an article describing the event. This article was written for comedic purposes and the rumor was soon dispelled that Kanye West did not score 106 points against handicapped children. This whole hoax could have been avoided has Google’s new tool already been in place.
Satire v Deception
There are a lot of satirical websites like The Onion, which purposefully skew information to be funny. Everyone knows they are making fun, so there’s no problem there. The problem lies in the websites on the Internet seeking to disseminate false opinions in the form of bona fide facts. This is where Google’s fact counting search algorithm could truly make a difference.
As the Internet continues to expand at an exponential rate, it becomes more relevant each day for something like Google’s truth seeking search engine to help tame the cyber jungle that has formed. Unlike the days before the Internet when information was valuable and harder to come by, nowadays information is poured out like monsoon rains over us all, and not all of it is clean.
It is important to keep the Internet as truthful as possible, especially in regards to reputable source information. Once the fact is no longer identifiable from the fiction, the tool that once was the Internet becomes nothing more than a plaything.