(New Scientist) The internet is stuffed with garbage. Anti-vaccination websites make the front page of Google, and fact-free “news” stories spread like wildfire. Google has devised a fix – rank websites according to their truthfulness.
Google’s search engine currently uses the number of incoming links to a web page as a proxy for quality, determining where it appears in search results. So pages that many other sites link to are ranked higher. This system has brought us the search engine as we know it today, but the downside is that websites full of misinformation can rise up the rankings, if enough people link to them.
Search Engine giant Google, the major driver of traffic to the majority of media portals is moving to change the way it ranks websites, declaring that it intends to use known partisan debunking outlets to determine the “truthfulness” of content.
Currently, Google rankings are determined by the number of incoming links to a web page, meaning that if a story becomes popular it can be driven to the top of search results, and by viewed by millions of people.
However, this is a little too democratic for the liking of some, who only like to get their “facts” from pre-approved sources.
The proposed solution, according to a Google funded research team is to compute a“Knowledge-Based Trust score” for every web page, based on Google’s own “Knowledge Vault”, an automated database that determines “facts the web unanimously agrees on,” according to the New Scientist.
“A source that has few false facts is considered to be trustworthy,” says the research team.
In short, any web pages that provide information that contradicts or questions Google’s own established “truth”, will be bumped down the rankings.
In addition, some of those working on “truthfulness” ranking technology have expressed a desire to verify or rebut web pages by cross-referencing them to other sources, such as Snopes, PolitiFact and FactCheck.org. These websites exist and profit directly from debunking anything and everything. What’s more, they have been previously exposed as highly partisan.
It is a move that will set alarm bells ringing for fans of alternative media websites, such as Infowars, which are regularly attacked by the professional debunking websites merely for questioning official narratives, and popularising underreported information.
Presumably, the meters of truthfulness and trustworthiness ultimately implemented by Google will stem from government accounts and it’s mouthpiece mainstream media reports. The rise of the alternative media has directly correlated with the routine exposure of misinformation, propaganda, and outright lies emanating from these institutions.