Google Overhauls Search Algorithm in Bid to Fight Fake News

Published By: The Telegraph, 4/25/2017

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Google is changing their search algorithm to better distinguish websites that contain fake news, conspiracy theories, or extreme views from more reputable sources or websites. The search engine’s Autosuggest and Direct Answer features will also be modified, to allow users to report offensive suggestions or false information (respectively). This comes after months of growing public pressure for Google to make changes to combat the spread of misinformation on the Internet.

Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level of Article: College

Extended Discussion Questions

  • If Google is successful in reducing the number of fake news websites it shows in the Google search results, how might this impact people’s political views and the tone of political discussions?
  • How might the changes Google is making to their algorithms impact you as a student?
  • In your opinion, do these new changes to Google’s algorithm, which demote certain websites in the search results, constitute corporate censorship? Why or why not?
    • If so, do you think this is an instance where corporate censorship is okay? Why or why not?
  • The article mentions that Google’s algorithms have a hard time distinguishing fake news and information from real. How do you (as a human) tell if a website is reputable or not?

Global Impact Learning Objectives:

  • LO 7.1.1 Explain how computing innovations affect communication, interaction, and cognition.
  • LO 7.3.1 Analyze the beneficial and harmful effects of computing.
  • LO 7.4.1 Explain the connections between computing and real-world contexts, including economic, social, and cultural contexts.
  • LO 7.5.2 Evaluate online and print sources for appropriateness and credibility.

Global Impact Essential Knowledge:

  • EK 7.1.1N The Internet and the Web have changed many areas, including e-commerce, health care, access to information and entertainment, and online learning.
  • EK 7.3.1E Commercial and governmental censorship of digital information raise legal and ethical concerns.
  • EK 7.5.2A Determining the credibility of a source requires considering and evaluating the reputation and credentials of the author(s), publisher(s), site owner(s), and/or sponsor(s).

Other CSP Big Ideas:

  • Idea 4 Algorithms

Banner Image:Network Visualization – Violet – Offset Crop“, derivative work by ICSI. New license: CC BY-SA 4.0. Based on “Social Network Analysis Visualization” by Martin Grandjean. Original license: CC BY-SA 3.0.

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