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Google will modify its algorithm to demote websites that publish slanderous claims about other people, this was in response to a New York Times article. The article documented how websites prey on victims of slander.
A NYT article explains how the industry works: “For many years, the vicious cycle has spun:
Websites solicit lurid, unverified complaints about supposed cheaters, sexual predators, deadbeats and scammers.
People slander their enemies.
The anonymous posts appear high in Google’s Algorithm Update results for the names of victims. Then the websites charge the victims thousands of dollars to take the posts down.”
By changing its algorithm, Google will prevent predatory websites from appearing in search results when a person’s name is searched.
In addition, Google offers a feature called “known victims” to ensure that slander victims are not repeatedly targeted.
“When people report to the company that they have been attacked on sites that charge to remove posts, Google will automatically suppress similar content when their names are searched for.
“Known victims” also includes people whose nude photos have been published online without their consent, allowing them to request suppression of explicit results for their names.”
The problems with Google’s Algorithm Update:
Google’s Algorithm Update was unaware of an ongoing problem with “slander-peddling” websites in its search results until it was brought to the company’s attention this year, according to the New York Times.
Before, individuals could request that slanderous pages be removed from search results.
Removing the content successfully resulted in a demotion signal for the sites publishing it.
Despite the fact that content was removed upon request, the company was unaware of repeated harassment.
In his blog post, Google Search Vice President explains the NYT’s ability to highlight Google’s limitations. In order to accomplish these aims,
Nayak states the following:
“To help people who are dealing with extraordinary cases of repeated harassment, we’re implementing an improvement to our approach to further protect known victims.
Now, once someone has requested a removal from one site with predatory practices, we will automatically apply ranking protections to help prevent content from other similar low quality sites appearing in search results for people’s names.
We’re also looking to expand these protections further, as part of our ongoing work in this space.”
The upcoming algorithm changes, as well as the creation of the “known victims” policy, will help resolve the problem.
Google admits won’t be perfect.
David Graff, head of Google’s trust and safety policy team, tells the NYT:
“I doubt it will be a perfect solution, certainly not right off the bat. But I think it really should have a significant and positive impact.
We can’t police the web, but we can be responsible citizens.”
Nayak echoes a similar sentiment in his blog post, stating: “Search is never a solved problem, and there are always new challenges we face as the web and the world change.”