Google Working on a System to Rank Pages Based on Facts, Not Links

Google wants to stop the spread of misinformation by changing the way it ranks pages — concentrating more on facts rather than links.

The web is full of misinformation from anti-vaccination movements to sites that wield pseudo-science as fact. But Google feels it has an obligation to change the way it ranks pages and prevent these sites from spreading false facts. A move that could add fuel to the fire of some of these sites' claims.

The hope is to remove fact-less news, according to a report from New Scientist's Hal Hodson. Right now, Google uses the number of incoming links as a way to judge a page's relevancy and quality. It's an easy way to help determine a page's importance relative to the vast and ever-expanding web. So, the search algorithm can calculate where it should appear amongst a search result's ranks. In short: the more sites that link to you, the higher your ranking.

The new system, being worked on by a Google research team, is based on trustworthiness — quality over popularity. The researchers said:

"A source that has few false facts is considered to be trustworthy."

The software that detects inaccuracies is based on Google's own Knowledge Vault, which was built to spit out facts gathered across the web and into a single database. Its purpose is to answer questions with an answer, rather than with a relevant link, such as, “Where was Madonna born?” But these facts are pulled automatically — without human assistance, based on information the web unanimously considers as truth.

The hope is this new way of ranking searches will help stop the spread of misinformation. When there are so many voices out there, it's difficult to separate fact from speculation, which may be why so many fact-checking apps and sites have appeared. However, for those already firm in their beliefs, it may be difficult to block people who already have misconceptions about, say, climate change. Studies have found it's better to empathize rather than bombard people with facts. However, Google's new rankings system may help aid people in their pursuit of knowledge in the future and help prevent any misinformation from spreading further.

Read more at New Scientist.

Photo credit: John Lord/Flickr

The world and workforce need wisdom. Why don’t universities teach it?

Universities claim to prepare students for the world. How many actually do it?

Photo: Take A Pix Media / Getty Images
Sponsored by Charles Koch Foundation
  • Many university mission statements do not live up to their promise, writes Ben Nelson, founder of Minerva, a university designed to develop intellect over content memorization.
  • The core competencies that students need for success—critical thinking, communication, problem solving, and cross-cultural understanding, for example—should be intentionally taught, not left to chance.
  • These competencies can be summed up with one word: wisdom. True wisdom is the ability to apply one's knowledge appropriately when faced with novel situations.
Keep reading Show less

What the world will look like in the year 250,002,018

This is what the world will look like, 250 million years from now

On Pangaea Proxima, Lagos will be north of New York, and Cape Town close to Mexico City
Surprising Science

To us humans, the shape and location of oceans and continents seems fixed. But that's only because our lives are so short.

Keep reading Show less

From zero to hero in 18 years: How SpaceX became a nation-state

SpaceX's momentous Crew Dragon launch is a sign of things to come for the space industry, and humanity's future.

SpaceX founder Elon Musk celebrates after the successful launch of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the manned Crew Dragon spacecraft at the Kennedy Space Center on May 30, 2020 in Cape Canaveral, Florida. Earlier in the day NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley lifted off an inaugural flight and will be the first people since the end of the Space Shuttle program in 2011 to be launched into space from the United States.

Photo:Joe Raedle/Getty Images
Politics & Current Affairs
  • SpaceX was founded in 2002 and was an industry joke for many years. Eighteen years later, it is the first private company to launch astronauts to the International Space Station.
  • Today, SpaceX's Crew Dragon launched NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the ISS. The journey will take about 19 hours.
  • Dylan Taylor, chairman and CEO of Voyager Space Holdings, looks at SpaceX's journey from startup to a commercial space company with the operating power of a nation-state.
Keep reading Show less

Six-month-olds recognize (and like) when they’re being imitated

A new study may help us better understand how children build social cognition through caregiver interaction.

Personal Growth
  • Scientists speculate imitation helps develop social cognition in babies.
  • A new study out of Lund University shows that six-month-olds look and smile more at imitating adults.
  • Researchers hope the data will spur future studies to discover what role caregiver imitation plays in social cognition development.
  • Keep reading Show less
    Scroll down to load more…