Google takes the extraordinary step of altering search results for Coronavirus

Social media has a lot of positives, but one negative is the ability for people (and bots) to quickly spread misinformation. When it comes to an issue as important...

Social media has a lot of positives, but one negative is the ability for people (and bots) to quickly spread misinformation. When it comes to an issue as important as the health of people across the world, ensuring people find their way to scientifically accurate information is incredibly important.

Google’s search algorithms have traditionally been unfiltered (other than illegal information), the company will now take the extraordinary step of intervening to alter search results to keep people safe and make it harder for those trying to spread incorrect information.

In a new post by Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google and Alphabet details the unprecedented steps they are taking.

One of Google’s biggest properties is YouTube, will billions of views per day. Videos containing commentary and official Coronavirus information are really hot right now and a key information source for people to get the latest information.

Google says it will direct users to authoritative government sources. YouTube will also remove conspiracy theory videos that actually discourage people from seeking medical treatment (yep, they do exist).

I think the world had at some level tolerated the anti-vaxer movement, understanding that it was a small percentage of people that believed that nonsense.

With Coronavirus, the stakes are even higher and the potential impacts on the community of letting this misinformation spread, is too great.

Personally I’m glad Google and YouTube are taking action and other platforms like Twitter and Facebook are also moving in a similar direction.

Update
YouTube are now considering demonetising videos about Coronavirus in an effort to stop people profiting from spreading false news. While this would impact those news organisations and YouTube businesses that rely on revenue from the platform, for the greater good, I think it’s worth at least trying to see if it stops the flood.

More information at Google.

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GeneralHealth

Creator of techAU, Jason has spent the dozen+ years covering technology in Australia and around the world. Bringing a background in multimedia and passion for technology to the job, Cartwright delivers detailed product reviews, event coverage and industry news on a daily basis.
2 Comments on this post.

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  • elvis
    7 March 2020 at 10:45 pm

    Are you insane? Do you think Facebook censorship will end once the Corona virus burns out? Over 100,000 Australian men and women died fighting in two world wars to defend the freedom you are prepared to give up with a shrug.

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  • C. WK
    8 March 2020 at 7:43 pm

    About a half a year ago or so, Google made a huge change to us algorithm to purposely block or for lack of a better term, and to be frank, censored search results. They essentially ruined their own product due to corporate and political pressure – I also think there was a big change in ideology with the two Founders stepping down. Whoever is running the company now seems to be doing it based on ego. Our beloved search engine is no longer. I will give you a small example. In the past, if I was researching companies being unethical or wanted a rank on their performance, I would get unbiased results and links to articles about said company. Now, if I do a search on the ethics or rating of a company, guess what I get? 15 results from the company ITSELF and then either the search results stop, or after that are a bunch of ” everything is great, nothing to see here” type results. Essentially, the search engine is treating us as if we are toddlers. Google, please do the right thing. Revert back to how you were when things were working and maybe we can respect you again.

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