Google aims to break the vicious circle of online slander

For many years A vicious circle turned: The website is soliciting weird, unconfirmed complaints about scammers, sexual predators, dead beats, and what appears to be scammers. People slander their enemies. Anonymous posts appear high in Google search results for the victim’s name. The website then charges the victim thousands of dollars to delete the post.

This ring of slander is Advantages for website-related intermediaries — And it will have a devastating impact on the victims. Now Google is trying to break the loop.

The company plans to change its search algorithm so that websites operating in domains such as and do not appear in the list of results when someone searches for a person’s name.

Google recently created a new concept called “known victims.”People Report to For companies that have been attacked by sites that request deletion of posts, Google will automatically suppress similar content when the name is searched. “Known Victims” also include those whose nude photos are published online without consent and can request suppression of explicit consequences of the name.

Some of the changes have already been made by Google, while others are planned for the coming months, but recently documented how the slander industry preys on victims with the unknowing help of Google. Correspondence to the article of New York Times.

credit…David Crotti / Patrick McMarran via Getty Images

“I don’t think it’s the perfect solution, but it’s not an immediate solution, but I think it should have a really important and positive impact,” Google’s global policy and standards and trust. Said David Graff, Vice President of Safety. “We can’t crack down on the web, but we can be responsible citizens.”

This is a significant change for victims of online slander. Google, which accounts for an estimated 90% of online search in the world, has historically resisted the role of human judgment in search engines, but in recent years it has been fighting the false information and misuse that appears at the top of the results. I am succumbing to the rising pressure.

Initially, the founders of Google saw the algorithm as an unbiased reflection of the Internet itself. Use an analysis called PageRank, named after co-founder Larry Page, to assess the quality of other sites based on the number of other linked sites and the number of linked sites. By doing so, we have determined the value of the website. Those.

The philosophy was as follows: Danielle Citron, a professor of law at the University of Virginia, said: Once you start touching the search results, it’s a one-way ratchet to the internet, and it’s not neutral. 10 years ago, Professor Citron Pressured Google blocks so-called revenge porn from appearing when searching for someone’s name. The company initially resisted.

Google 2004 statement Why the search engine was displaying anti-Semitic websites in response to a “Jewish” search.

“Our search results are completely objectively generated and have nothing to do with the beliefs and preferences of people working at Google,” the company said in a statement it deleted ten years later. “The only sites we are omitting are those that are legally forced to be removed or that are maliciously attempting to manipulate the results.”

Early intervention in Google’s search results was limited to: Web spam Economically dangerous information such as pirated movies and music required by copyright law, and social security numbers. Most recently, the company has generously played a more active role in cleaning up people’s search results.

The most notable example was a European court in 2014Right to be forgottenResidents of the European Union can request that information they deem inaccurate and irrelevant be removed from search engines.

Google failed to fight the court ruling. The company said it’s role is to give access to existing information and doesn’t want to be involved in regulating the content that appears in search results.Google has been forced to remove it since the rights were established Millions of links From search results for people’s names.

After Donald J. Trump was elected president, there was further pressure for change.After the election, one of the top Google search results for “2016 final election votes” It was a link In an article that mistakenly stated that Mr. Trump, who won the electoral college, also won the popularity vote.

A few months later, Google announced Initiative To provide “algorithm updates to display more reliable content” to prevent intentionally misleading, false, or offensive information from appearing in search results.

Around that time, Google’s opposition to engineering harassment from the results began to subside.

Wayback machine archive Some of Google’s policies regarding removing items from search results capture the evolution of the company. First, Google was trying to erase nude photos published online without the consent of the subject. After that, medical information began to be delisted. This was followed by fake pornography, followed by sites with an “exploitative removal” policy, and so-called doxing content that Google defined as “publicizing contact information for harm purposes.”

According to Google, removal request forms receive millions of visits each year, but many victims are unaware of their existence. This allows “reputation managers” and others to charge for removing content from the results they can request for free.

Pandu Nayak, head of Google’s search quality team, said the company was a few years ago. Prosperous industry It highlighted people’s mugshots and then charged for removal.

Google began to rank such exploitative sites lower in its results, but the changes did not help people who do not have much information online. Posts accusing such people of being substance abusers or pedophiles can still stand out in their results, as Google’s algorithms hate vacuum.

Slandering websites rely on this feature. You can’t charge thousands of dollars to remove content unless the post is damaging people’s reputation.

Nayak and Graf said Google was unaware of the scope of the issue until the Times article highlighted it this year. They said changes to Google’s algorithm and the creation of its “known victims” classification would help solve the problem. In particular, it makes it harder for your site to get attention on Google, using one of the preferred methods of copying and reposting defamatory content from other sites.

Google has recently tested changes, and contractors are comparing old and new search results side-by-side.

The Times previously compiled a list of 47,000 people written on the slanderous site. A search of a small number of people who previously had disjointed posts scattered around could already detect the changes Google made. For some, the post disappeared from the first page of results and the results of the image. For others, the posts were almost gone — except for posts from the new slander site, may explain Google’s new protection limits. It’s so new that it’s unlikely that the victim has complained. These complaints are one way Google finds slanderous sites. Also, does not explicitly advertise the removal of posts as a service, which can make it difficult for victims to remove posts from their results.

Google executives said the company wasn’t motivated solely by sympathy for victims of online slander. Instead, it’s part of Google’s many years of effort to combat sites that are trying to display higher in search engine results than they deserve.

“These sites, frankly, are game-making our system,” Graf said.

Still, the Google move could add questions about the company’s effective monopoly on information in and out of the public domain. Indeed, that’s part of why Google has historically been so reluctant to intervene in individual search results.

“You should be able to find anything that is legal to find,” said Daphne Keller, a Google lawyer from 2004 to 2015 who worked on the search product team during that time. Currently, I am studying the ideal platform at Stanford University. Be regulated. “I’m just bending my muscles and deciding what information to erase,” Google said.

Keller hadn’t criticized his former employer, but lamented the fact that lawmakers and law enforcement officials largely ignored the slander industry and its exorbitant practices and wiped out the turmoil in Google. ..

The potential for Google to solve this problem by changing policies and tweaking its algorithms is a “benefit of centralization,” said Professor Citron of the University of Virginia, saying that technology platforms are more online abuse than government. Claimed to have the power to fight.

Professor Citron was impressed with Google’s changes, especially the designation of “known victims.” She said such victims were often posted repeatedly and the site exacerbated the damage by rubbing against each other.

“I admire their efforts,” she said. “Can they do better? Yes, they can.”

Aaron Chloric Contributed report.

Google aims to break the vicious circle of online slander

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