While it’s no secret that the internet is full of nonsense, and factual sources are becoming increasingly hard to come by amid the influx of fake news, Google is known as a trusted tool with algorithms that place the most credible results at the top of the list after a search is entered.
In a few instances, however, that has proven not to be the case, such as the outrageous response that came up for users who asked Google “are black people smart?”
The top result that emerged for several people said, “Blacks are the least intelligent race of all,” and asserted, “There is no real question about that.” The response came from a racist Wordpress blog from 2014 written by a man named Robert Lindsay.
According to Indy100, a Google spokesperson said, “The fact that hate sites may appear in search results in no way means that Google endorses these views.”
While that may be true, these particular results certainly seemed to be endorsed by Google as they appeared in a “knowledge box,” which looks like it was specifically chosen to stand out among the other answers.
A similar issue occurred when people searched “Did the Holocaust happen?” and the top result was from a white supremacist site called Stormfront, which claimed the historical genocide did not happen.
Google has said it is “thinking deeply” about how to improve these troubling issues.
Although users are perfectly capable of scrolling through other results, double checking sources, and questioning the veracity of search results on their own, a major problem is that children heavily depend on Google and in turn may not bother to think twice about the answers they’re provided when entering a search.
“The proportion of 12 to 15 year-olds turning to Google for ‘true and accurate information about things that are going on in the world’ had shot up to 30% this year, compared to 17% in 2015,” according to BBC News.
Hate speech and fabrications popping up as top results is extremely problematic, not just because they are offensive. Google has such a strong influence on society that there are many people who will believe the ignorance being perpetuated by these sources.
If the tech giant wants to protect its credibility, the masterminds behind it better translate their “deep thinking” into action very quickly.
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