Google deserves praise for taking steps to prioritize authoritative information sources in search results. Last week, the company released a statement saying that, “when non-authoritative information ranks too high in our search results, we develop scalable, automated approaches to fix the problems, rather than manually removing these one-by-one.”
As a leading company in the online and technology field, Google has been the target of individuals and groups seeking to exploit or work around the company’s safeguards and policies. Rather than ignoring this challenge, they have been responsive, and they have earned respect as a thought leader in the online safety arena.
This is not the first time Google has had issues with its search results. As with all internet platforms, they constantly refine their products to contend with changes in the world and efforts to manipulate their system. By way of illustration, two years ago Google’s autocomplete feature was offering disturbing search suggestions.
For example, if someone typed “Jews should,” the algorithm offered to complete the phrase with “die” or “leave Europe.” Similar results came up for other minorities: Blacks should (pick cotton/be exterminated), gays should (be executed/ be shot), Jews need to (be exterminated/register), gays need to (die). When Google was made aware of this, they modified autocomplete to cope with the problem.
Google’s move to address the most recent autocomplete issue – “did the Holocaust happen” – reaffirms the company’s commitment to its users and its openness to finding ways to improve the internet environment for everyone.