New Google “Fact Based” Search Could Devastate Sites Like Gawker, Anti-Vaxxer Sites

Screen Shot 2015-03-04 at 5.44.01 PMA new Google ranking system being developed would rank websites based on how factual their reporting is, rather than how popular they are. This new system would differ from the current algorithm, which ranks sites on how many sites are linking to them. Sites like Gawker and anti-vaccination websites, which can be stuffed with misinformation, could suffer.

A Google research team is working on a model that would measure a site’s trustworthiness by fact checking the article with their vast knowledge vault. The New Scientist described their archive thusly: 

Knowledge Vault is a type of “knowledge base” – a system that stores information so that machines as well as people can read it. Where a database deals with numbers, a knowledge base deals with facts. When you type “Where was Madonna born” into Google, for example, the place given is pulled from Google’s existing knowledge base.

This existing base, called Knowledge Graph, relies on crowdsourcing to expand its information. But the firm noticed that growth was stalling; humans could only take it so far.

So Google decided it needed to automate the process. It started building the Vault by using an algorithm to automatically pull in information from all over the web, using machine learning to turn the raw data into usable pieces of knowledge.

Knowledge Vault has pulled in 1.6 billion facts to date. Of these, 271 million are rated as “confident facts”, to which Google’s model ascribes a more than 90 per cent chance of being true. It does this by cross-referencing new facts with what it already knows.

“Informally, we define the trustworthiness or accuracy of a web source as the probability that it contains the correct value for a fact (such as Barack Obama’s nationality), assuming that it mentions any value for that fact,” Google researchers wrote.

When sites like Gawker or TMZ were tested, they ranked in the bottom 50 percent of searches, while in the current system they ranked in the top 15 percent. At the moment the system is not live, and there is no timeline for when they might move forward with such a project. If they were to do so it could totally revolutionize the media landscape, make or break fortunes, and dethrone many of the current leading online media outlets.

Of course, The Libertarian Republic should do just fine, since we only report the truth.

Jimmy Kimmel once famously called out the former editor of Gawker for their reporting in an iconic segment on the Larry King Live show.

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