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Google changed its algorithm to target slander — and you benefit

The changes crack down on exploitative, slanderous sites. Changes that benefit you

The Google logo is seen at the Google headquarters in Brussels.
The Google logo is seen at the Google headquarters in Brussels, Tuesday, March 23, 2010.
Associated Press

Online slander quickly becomes part of a vicious cycle. False internet posts can ruin people’s reputations, lives and finances, reports The Daily Wire.

  • According to The New York Times, “Websites solicit lurid, unverified complaints about supposed cheaters, sexual predators, deadbeats and scammers. People slander their enemies. The anonymous posts appear high in Google results for the names of victims. Then the websites charge the victims thousands of dollars to take the posts down.”

Now, Google is trying to break this cycle with changes that will benefit victims of online slander, per CNet.

Why is Google changing its algorithm to target slander?

Google’s recent changes follow from a series of articles from The New York Times that exposed the slander industry. Specifically, these reports exposed how Google helps slanderous sites by making their results prevalent in searches.

  • The company has now responded to these reports by changing the way its algorithm prioritizes slanderous sites, CNet reported.

”Over the years, our approach to improving quality issues in search ranking has been consistent: we do not take the approach of ‘fixing’ individual queries, but we take these examples and look for ways to make broad algorithmic improvements,” Google’s head of search quality, Pandu Nayak, said via The Verge.

How will the changes work?

The new changes include two components:

  • Google will keep domains connected to slanderous and exploitative sites from appearing when a person’s name is searched, according to The New York Times. These domains will not appear as high on search results as they did previously.
  • Google created a new classification — the “known victim,” CNet reported. People can report directly to Google when they have been attacked or targeted by online slander. In turn, Google will limit this, and similar, slanderous content.

Some changes have already come into effect with more on the way, The Verge reported.

Why is this change so significant?

Google has long maintained a hands-off approach to its search results. The company has defended its algorithm as presenting objective and unbiased results, according to The New York Times. However, Google has increasingly come under criticism for the way its search results support problematic online content.

  • Google handles about 90% of global search traffic, The Verge said.

The newest changes mark a major shift in company policy and come as part of a broader effort to combat misinformation and other “toxic” online content, CNet said.