We all know the internet is filled with loads of information – facts, rumors and hoaxes. On everyday life it is hard to tell to differentiate between fact and fiction. This is especially true on the most popular platforms, but Google has not left it unheard. After Facebook, now Google is exploring options to improve how it ranks its search results.
Recently, Google has proposed a way to rank search results not by the popularity of the web pages, but by their factual accuracy. To be precise, it is 100% theoretical – its research paper, not a product announcement. Still, the possibility that a search engine could effectively evaluate truth, traditionally an exclusive human domain, promises a fundamental change.
Currently the biggest factor is how many other pages link to the page in question, but this is not always a good metric for determining quality content. Often viral hoaxes are linked to tons of times simply because they are being talked about, not because they are correct.
The research team from Google wants to revise the current system to look for inaccuracies instead of links. The strategy is yet to be implemented, but the paper presented a method for adapting algorithms such that they would generate a “Knowledge-Based Trust” score for every page. For this, the algorithm would pick out statements and compare with Google’s Knowledge Vault, a database of facts. It would also access the trustworthiness of the source – for example, a reputable news site versus a newly created WordPress blog.
Google structures facts as ‘knowledge triples,’- subject, relationship, attribute. Google would just look at all the site’s knowledge triples and see how many don’t agree with its established body of facts. Another part of the strategy involves looking at ‘topic relevance.’ The algorithm scans the name of the site and its ‘about us’ section for information on its goals.
A distant suggestion is that Google’s version of the truth would iterate over time. At some point, perhaps even Google’s hotly debated and much-studied ranking algorithm could begin including accuracy among the factors its uses to choose the search results one see.
Presently, the company has no plans to implement it. At this point, according to Google, the plan is not even under consideration. To make this kind of change in a way Google’s search engine handles would be a major overhaul. The system’s way to handle issues like satire, jokes and memes is not clear. Apparently, there are various other concerns with this system.
The Google method is still under development, but the researchers say it shows ‘promise.’ The notion of basing search results on facts instead of links could one day be a possibility, but currently it is not even on a roadmap, the company said.