Google Hopes “Offensive” Flag Will Help Improve Search Results

In another step to help combat content that users might find offensive or upsetting, Google is introducing an “offensive” flag for their review team to apply to search results.

A new category of “offensive-upsetting” will now be available for Google’s review team to select. The tag won’t actually affect search results (meaning if people search for that content on purpose, they’ll still find it), but it will be used by Google algorithms to push “good” content higher. If you run your own blog, you know the importance of staying in Google’s good graces, so this is relatively important news for people who have their own blog.

Google’s review team is made up of contractors known as “quality raters.” These workers comb through page after page of websites and flag questionable content like pornography or content that promotes terrorism. And now, they have another tool in their arsenal.

For now, Google has said the tag will apply to content that “promotes hate or violence against a specific group of people based on gender, race or other criteria.”

Google cited an example of someone searching for “Holocaust history.” If a review team ember has flagged a site listing “Top 10 reasons why the Holocaust didn’t happen,” as offensive, it likely would receive a tag the searcher would see.

Google noted that these sites would still display the tag even if it’s exactly what the user wanted. The review team is given instructions to “flag to all web results that contain upsetting or offensive content from the perspective of users in your locale, even if the result satisfies the user intent.”

While Google isn’t actively censoring content, it’s a good sign that they’re trying to make the search experience better for users. This addition makes it much less likely someone will accidentally stumble on offensive content, while people genuinely looking for that content can still find it.

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