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facts

Rule #1 of journalism

The media is abuzz with information about Google’s new Fact-based algorithm, said to be harmful to sites like Gawker and Fox. Many journalism sites from Gizmodo to The Daily Caller are reporting on this as if Google corp themselves said that this will be happening and that this will be harmful to Gawker in particular.

Well… this is not going to be a big shocker to anyone involved, but these journalism sites are fabricating the whole thing based on no evidence whatsoever, outside of linking to every other news site that repeats it as evidence that it is happening. Something I personally call Lazy Journalism.

Google themselves has not made any report at all stating that they will be altering their search engines to a fact-based system. There is not a single official report from Google themselves on this matter. Then where is this story coming from that Google said this? Well, backchecking the sources of numerous news sites and unraveling the large web of circlejerk links leads me back to this article by NewScientist, which to me seems well-written but I guess can lead to some confusion.

A Google research team has proposed a search based algorithm that uses a list of millions of backchecked facts from something called the Google Knowledge Vault to determine a websites truth. If a website lists a lie, through this model it is ranked lower on Google and thus harder to find via search results. But the thing is, this study is just that, a study. A model. There has not been a shred of evidence from Google or even from the study to even suggest that this will be implemented AT ALL.

The mention of this being detrimental to Gawker in particular does not even originate from that Newscientist article, that little inclusion seems to originate from The Daily Caller. The original paper from the Google researchers mention no website name in particular when talking about the effectiveness of this algorithm, but news sites are still reporting with headlines like “Gawker To Be Penalized By New ‘Fact-Based’ Search Algorithm, Says Google” as if Google themselves have made an official report outing Gawker in particular. That has not happened.

While the search algorithm is an interesting thing to ponder about, and would probably do well as a separate search engine to find more accurate fact-based information so that you are not bombarded with tons of misinformation and, as Katie Couric once said “Pure poppycock that proliferated online,” there is no evidence that Google even wants to try to make this algorithm a part of their system.

It is a must in working in journalism to actually read your sources before reporting on them. This is yet another example of journalism twisting information as it goes through the grapevine, either deliberately or accidentally, because journalists are too lazy to check their sources and report with accuracy.

What do you think of the misinformation being propagated by the media about the Google fact-based algorithm? Does this surprise you?


Lucy Walcott

Lucy Walcott is a writer who loves to talk about political issues and other things. She has been an avid gamer since she was little, focusing almost exclusively on RPG and hack and slash games. Some of her favorites includes The Legend of Zelda, Final Fantasy, Ys, and Breath of Fire. Her favorite systems includes PlayStation, Nintendo, and Steam.