This Won't Be Abused At All: Google Offers Tool To Flag And Downrank 'Offensive' Search Results

from the this-whole-thing-is-offensive dept

Google is constantly under pressure from all sides to change how it ranks just about everything. There's a massive SEO industry, a decent portion of which is dedicated into tricking Google into ranking some stuff higher than others (or downgrading content that someone doesn't like). And, then, of course, there are the "outside" interests. For years, the legacy recording and movie industries would misleadingly blame Google for piracy and demand that it downrank "pirate" links. Google caved in and did so, and the end result has been kind of a mess. Because it's based on DMCA notices in to Google, the company now gets flooded with an ever increasing number of DMCA notices -- many of which are completely bogus (and potentially just designed to mess with search rankings).

On top of that, in cases where it does downrank so-called "pirate" sites, since people are still looking for unauthorized content anyway, they end up going to more dangerous sites, where they're more likely to get malware. And, of course, as we predicted, despite caving in and giving the RIAA/MPAA a tool to shape search results, those industries still aren't satisfied. Because they'll never be satisifed. That's because they fail to understand that the problem isn't Google. Google is just a representation of what's on the internet -- and many people on the internet want access to content that is otherwise difficult to get. That's not Google's fault.

A couple of years ago, Google also announced that it would allow people to remove "revenge porn" results from search. And you can certainly understand why pretty much everyone would want this as an end result. But, still, once you make that tool available, there's reason to fear that it, too, will be abused. And even if a company as large as Google may be able to properly staff up to go through and review each request, this only puts pressure on everyone else -- including much smaller, less well-staffed, less well-resourced players to do something similar.

And now... for reasons that are unclear, Google has announced that it opened up a tool that will let people report "offensive" results and potentially downrank those results.

With the change, content with racial slurs could now get flagged under a new category called "upsetting-offensive." So could content that promotes hate or violence against a specific group of people based on gender, race or other criteria.

While flagging something doesn't directly affect the search results themselves, it's used to tweak the company's software so that better content ranks higher. This approach might, for instance, push down content that is inaccurate or has other questionable attributes, thereby giving prominence to trustworthy sources.

Again, at a first pass, this kind of thing absolutely sounds good. We should want better results, and the idea of letting Google's many millions of users help flag certain sites to be carefully reviewed for "upsetting or offensive" content makes sense. But... again, this definitely seems like the kind of thing that is open to widespread abuse. First off, what is "upsetting or offensive" anyway? That's a completely subjective standard, and one that we've seen people judge very, very differently. Second, what do you do if you really dislike a particular site? You open up a vote-brigade by a bunch of people to label it "upsetting or offensive." Trump haters can go after Breitbart and Trump supporters can go after the NY Times. Hopefully Google resists those kinds of vote brigading, but just the fact that this kind of tool is open to such abuse is concerning. And, again, when Google does something like this, it puts more pressure on other sites, with many fewer resources, to do something similar or get branded as somehow "supporting" offensive content.

Again, none of this is to say that Google must be promoting "offensive" content. It has the right to create its search results however it wants. But the more tools it opens up to the public to potentially downrank sites, the more the risk is that such tools get widely abused.


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  • identicon
    Anonymous, 20 Mar 2017 @ 3:36am

    If only it could save a cookie on your machine/google account and your flagging only affected your own searches... But that would mean less defamation lawsuits and other various butt-hurt on the internet...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    My_Name_Here, 20 Mar 2017 @ 4:37am

    Considering how much the "report" flag is abused here, I have to say I agree with you for once. It's a silly idea (here or with Google).

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 19 Apr 2017 @ 2:08am

      Re:

      There once was a horse with no name
      Who said John Steele was not to blame
      When he was asked why
      He let out a cry
      "John wiped off my face when he came!"

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Mar 2017 @ 4:39am

    I"m confused - isn't this type of user ranking exactly what TechDirt does?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 20 Mar 2017 @ 5:25am

      Re:

      Not at all, as hidden comments on Techdirt remain in thread, and with a visible means of unhiding them. Push Google search result 5 or more pages down, and very few people will get to the page that they are on.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        PaulT (profile), 20 Mar 2017 @ 6:10am

        Re: Re:

        There's so many fundamental differences beyond the ability to accept user input, that I guess the AC is the guy who's recently been whining because his trolling has been flagged by the community yet again.

        If not, a brief description - Techdirt is a community driven site, and they provide the ability to flag posts that are not acceptable to the community for whatever reason. If a certain threshold is passed, the comments are hidden (but, perfectly visible to anyone who wishes to see them). These results do not carry on to other threads, unless the same IP is repeatedly reported (and thus passed into a spam queue to be manually accepted).

        Google's search engine, however, is not a community, it's a tool used to find other sites. According to the description above, reporting does not affect the current search result, but will be used to affect future searches - at which time, the user will likely never know that the prior voting has altered what they see nor what they're missing.

        There's almost no similarity beyond the ability for users to mark their opinion.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Wendy Cockcroft, 21 Mar 2017 @ 3:32am

          Re: Re: Re:

          To be fair, PaulT, Google's search results are affected by people checking other people or things out. The more often a particular item is searched for and clicked on, the higher it will rank. I've seen it in my own case where curious people checking me out click on certain links, pulling them up the search results. They don't seem to be as interested in my blogging and creative work as in the unfounded allegations posted by a troll and repeated by a person who objects to my having an opinion that she disagrees with.

          The negative links go up and down the list, it seems, according to how interested people are in finding out who I really am and what I am really about. While Google can have some affect on it by downranking, etc., it's the users who ultimately determine the position of the search results by clicking on the links that interest them.

          What I'm saying is, users can in fact make changes to the results if they act en masse. There just needs to be a bigger mass searching on Google than there is on TD when we click the report button on comments we don't like.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 20 Mar 2017 @ 6:31am

      Re:

      Exactly. But it's also worse in that hidden comments aren't searchable. The "community" censorship here conveniently hides the criticism of this site from search engines.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        PaulT (profile), 20 Mar 2017 @ 6:59am

        Re: Re:

        "The "community" censorship here conveniently hides the criticism of this site from search engines."

        You guys would do well to base your assertions on something that's not easily proven to be utter bullshit within 10 seconds.

        Case in point - I tested your assertion here, that flagging comments hides them from search engines. There is a hidden comment on this thread:

        https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20170316/17532836935/facebook-sued-israel-blocking-all-link s-to-site-critical-facebook-suggesting-site-was-unsafe.shtml#c258

        The opening sentence is as follows:

        "Did you see the reply in court from the Inventor of Email"

        When I tried searching that in Google, not only does it come up linking to that same comment, the comment in question is the ONLY result for that phrase in quotes. (Obviously, that will soon change after this comment is crawled by Google's bots).

        https://www.google.com.gi/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=%2 2Did+you+see+the+reply+in+court+from+the+Inventor+of+Email%22&*

        The timestamp on Google's cached link shows the time of 20 Mar 2017 07:38:52 GMT, and clearly shows that the post has been flagged, but it's still visible, despite your claim.

        Translation - you're lying, and you had better start living in the real world if you expect people to take you seriously. Your lies will be tested here and found to be lacking.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 20 Mar 2017 @ 10:23pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          The comments are hidden and not searchable in the browser. They are visible only to mobile users and bots.

          Your Google search will return the page but visiting the page from a non mobile device will make it impossible to actually find the comment. Searching for it on the page appears to retuen nothing.

          Like it or not the comment is effectively censored. Only someone knowing to open each and evety censored comment manually might find it. It requires an extended effort to find the comment which is just this side of oitrightly deleting it.

          Its like holding comments for moderation for an extended period of time. While the comment is eventually published it is generally not part of the discussion and was likely not see by most readers. It's not wuite censorship but rather just inside the line with a big smirk added.

          Pretending that the techdirt vote to censor is any different from a Google vote to censor is pretty loopy.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            PaulT (profile), 21 Mar 2017 @ 1:45am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            "The comments are hidden and not searchable in the browser"

            You can view page source and search there if you wish, I believe, but then why would you be searching for the comment rather than reading the thread?

            "Your Google search will return the page but visiting the page from a non mobile device will make it impossible to actually find the comment"

            Bullshit. I'm using a desktop browser and I found the comment above with no problem.

            "Only someone knowing to open each and evety censored comment manually might find it"

            Funny, I read the shit you people spew over the site all the time without any problem. Are you that incapable of using the site, or have you just gone to so many lengths to try and avoid being held accountable for your own works that it's tripping you up when you try to backtrack?

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
              identicon
              My_Name_Here, 21 Mar 2017 @ 9:38am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Pants in fire PaulT, you are lying.

              If a comment is censored on Techdirt, searching for it in your browser (control F) FAILS - unless you have already unblocked the comment. Otherwise, it does not exist. Search will not find what is not visible.

              This is tested with current versions of Chrome, IE, and that weird IE replacement.

              "Funny, I read the shit you people spew over the site all the time without any problem. Are you that incapable of using the site, or have you just gone to so many lengths to try and avoid being held accountable for your own works that it's tripping you up when you try to backtrack?"

              Wow, the big wave of dismissal. I have tested it with every browser I have, the ones that the majority of users would be using, and guess what? You cannot search a page for hidden comment text.

              "You can view page source and search there if you wish, I believe, but then why would you be searching for the comment rather than reading the thread?"

              Did you even type that? Listen up Kellyanne, few normal people would search source for a text string. They search on the visible page. Moreover, if you have to go to extreme measures to be able to find something, perhaps at that point you will realize the comment is censored. Why would you have to look at page source at all, unless it's not visible and not searchable to begin with?

              Alternate facts aren't helping you out here. Use the site like a normal human (it might take you an effort) and you will quickly realize that the comments are censored, unsearchable, and generally unavailable without significant effort. That is all the makings of censorship.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 22 Mar 2017 @ 12:48am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                Fucking hell, horse with no name, nobody wants to read about your obsessive mancrush with PaulT. There's already plenty of it on the site, unhidden.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • icon
                PaulT (profile), 22 Mar 2017 @ 1:30am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                "Pants in fire PaulT, you are lying."

                No, they're not even *on* fire, I have demonstrable facts on my side. You know, reality? That thing you keep avoiding so you can launch your pathetic troll campaign here?

                "If a comment is censored on Techdirt, searching for it in your browser (control F) FAILS"

                Again, WHY are you searching for a comment? Most people just read the thread. Are you so obsessed that you have to search for your own words to get off on them now?

                Here's a hint: search for "This comment has been flagged by the community". It will usually be your comment.

                "few normal people would search source for a text string"

                What do you know of normal people? Anyway, I stated the way you can get around it if you really want. Not my fault your ignorance causes you to try and mock me instead of understanding how browsers work.

                I also notice you completely ignored the fact that I exposed your lie about search engines for what it was. Funny, that.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 22 Mar 2017 @ 3:34am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  As a result of this its clear that you see flagged comments as censored.

                  Glad everyone agrees.

                  reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                  • icon
                    PaulT (profile), 22 Mar 2017 @ 3:47am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                    "As a result of this its clear that you see flagged comments as censored."

                    What colour is the sky in your version of reality, anyway? Here in the reality everyone else inhabits, it's a nice blue.

                    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • icon
                PaulT (profile), 22 Mar 2017 @ 1:38am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                "Use the site like a normal human"

                Oh, and I repeat: why would a normal human being be *searching* for the exact words you type? Most people read the thread, recognise your bullshit for what it is and move on to the next comment. I realise I probably shouldn't reply to you myself, but I do enjoy poking mental cases online to see what they come up with next.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 22 Mar 2017 @ 5:23am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  It won't be the first time horse with no name has bitched about people searching for obscure, specific search terms either.

                  Granted, a normal human being wouldn't be searching for the exact words they type - unless the one searching for those exact words is the narcissistic, prissy egomaniac who typed them in the first place.

                  reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Wendy Cockcroft, 21 Mar 2017 @ 3:33am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Nobody likes a whiner. I just hid your comments, now beat it.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Mar 2017 @ 4:45am

    Lol, this is the internet, everything is offensive to someone.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      JoeCool (profile), 20 Mar 2017 @ 7:44am

      Re:

      Exactly! So let's organize the troops and have them downrank anything from the RIAA and MPAA - we find them EXTREMELY offensive.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Roger Strong (profile), 20 Mar 2017 @ 8:12am

        Re: Re:

        It won't help. They'll still be bribing, er, holding campaign fundraisers for politicians. Debbie will still be turning their wishes into laws.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Richard (profile), 20 Mar 2017 @ 1:23pm

      Re:

      Lol, this is the internet, everything is offensive to someone.

      Maybe it is - maybe it isn't - but as George Orwell said

      “Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed: everything else is public relations.”

      On that basis when someone objects to content Google should up-rank it!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    discordian_eris (profile), 20 Mar 2017 @ 4:59am

    The motto from The Order of the Red Garter, a Gardnerian newsletter decades ago comes to mind. Succinct, but profound:

    If it doesn't offend somebody, it couldn't possibly interest anybody.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    roebling (profile), 20 Mar 2017 @ 5:07am

    Downgrade Brand X

    This is great for my company, Acme. We'll put a team on downgrading searches for our competitor, Brand X, immediately!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 20 Mar 2017 @ 5:50am

    A phantom threat

    You open up a vote-brigade by a bunch of people to label it "upsetting or offensive."

    'Vote-brigade'? Come on now, I mean it's not like there are large groups of people that would intentionally try to bury stuff because they're being paid to muddy the waters, call them 'troll factories' for lack of a better term. Or large numbers of people that are being told that anything that contradicts what those in charge say is wrong and who might try to bury such 'lies' as offensive.

    No, I'm sure that much like the DMCA process this one will be used only for good and will never, ever be abused for personal gain and/or entertainment.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Mar 2017 @ 6:09am

    google is full of it. they themselves manipulating searches. just look at hillary auto complete during campaign.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 20 Mar 2017 @ 6:23am

      Re:

      You're free to use a different search engine.

      You can also explain how an article describing the measures that Google are implementing ways to manipulate searches means they're "full of it". Because without that, as far as I can see it you're just another reactionary idiot not understanding what they read before launching into a knee jerk tirade.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      I.T. Guy, 20 Mar 2017 @ 6:34am

      Re:

      I did, and it was BS.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 20 Mar 2017 @ 8:15am

      Re:

      She lost, get over it.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      OA (profile), 20 Mar 2017 @ 8:27am

      Re:

      I thought Google auto-complete was based on popularity of actual user searches.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      OA (profile), 20 Mar 2017 @ 8:27am

      Re:

      I thought Google auto-complete was based on popularity of actual user searches.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 20 Mar 2017 @ 8:49am

      Re:

      "google is full of it. they themselves manipulating searches."

      But if they don't manipulate searches, then what is it that you think will happen when you type something into a google search bar? The entirety of a search engine is combing through giant masses of text on thousands of sites and doing all kinds of analysis to determine which sites they think you'll find most relevant. If they didn't do any manipulation, it would be no better than a regex. But if all you want is a regex, perhaps go find some search engine from the mid 1990's.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Mike Masnick (profile), 20 Mar 2017 @ 11:38am

      Re:

      they themselves manipulating searches. just look at hillary auto complete during campaign.

      Yeah, you see, that's not actually true...

      http://fusion.net/story/312755/google-autocomplete-hillary-clinton-bias/

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        My_Name_Here, 20 Mar 2017 @ 1:32pm

        Re: Re:

        A story (opinion piece, possibly) with a bunch of tweets from Matt Cutts ain't worth much. Matt's time with Google was basically as someone who never told all of the truth, and often buried any truth under piles and piles of empty and misleading statements.

        His examples are correct, but may only be correct for him personally. He fails to point out that Google provides different experiences based on location, if you are logged in, and so on. Those differences are often significant, and to forget to mention this little issue.

        Since we all know (and it has been proven again and again) that Google can and does manipulate these auto complete results to comply with legal orders and such, it's not unreasonable to assume that they may have also done it for the election. The absence of hard smoking gun proof (say emails within the company, or similar) does not say that they did not put their finger on the scale to tilt it a bit, perhaps in some places.

        Taking Matt Cutts word at face value in regards to Google seems to be naive.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 20 Mar 2017 @ 1:53pm

        Re: Re:

        No, Mike, just... no. If a company gets wind of accusations that would lead to their undoing, said company will stop what they're accused of doing and deny it. So, when a self-proclaimed insider says "we didn't do it", and backs that up with screen-caps taken after the fact, I'm not too particularly impressed. Matt Cutts is just another history-revisionist defending his insidious troop and their daily chicanery.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 20 Mar 2017 @ 7:08pm

        Re: Re:

        mr masnick, do an experiment. find list of decent proxies and while hiding behind try same controversial topics. you will see google feeding you whole different results, depending on you ip. try spice searches with altering your os. google gets really funny when they think nobody is watching.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Mike Masnick (profile), 20 Mar 2017 @ 9:01pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          mr masnick, do an experiment. find list of decent proxies and while hiding behind try same controversial topics. you will see google feeding you whole different results, depending on you ip. try spice searches with altering your os. google gets really funny when they think nobody is watching.

          Um. Yes. For many years now, Google has customized search results based on who's doing the searching. That's not new. It's also not secret. Not sure what you're suggesting with your comment.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 20 Mar 2017 @ 5:11pm

      Re:

      How can you tell the difference between SEO and Google fucking with the results themselves?

      SEO seems far more likely given Hillary's heavy focus on messaging sans substance. Not to mention the extreme and needless risk Google would place themselves under for making changes themselves.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 20 Mar 2017 @ 7:12am

    A tale of a divided country

    There is this country where there are two main political forces. The people from one side are often called communists (which may be true but the word isn't some sort of swearing per se) and other funny names while the other side is called fascists (which may technically be true but again the word is not some sort of swearing) and other funny names. One side believes their own team is the best and everything the other does and says is offensive. The other is exactly the same.

    The tool Google is implementing gets widely abused, results get screwed up, nobody gives a fuk to the country as long as the other team is in the mud and my team gets whatever it wants. And everybody loses.

    I'm talking about my country but I suspect you could add many others in this story.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 20 Mar 2017 @ 8:01am

      Re: A tale of a divided country

      This sounds like an opportunity. Both sides downgrade their opponents until neither show up until Google search page 10. Then, a third party startup comes tearing into the fray with their results showing up on Google search page 1.

      The hysterical part of all this is that the two original parties would have defeated themselves.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 20 Mar 2017 @ 8:35am

        Re: Re: A tale of a divided country

        Sounds good to me, but you fail to understand that the original parties in power will join forces to destroy that 3rd party startup.

        Multiple parties started and died in the beginning of that nation because no party was entrenched at the time. Now... things are different. People have been thoroughly taught to believe that you only have two choices and you will be called crazy (by both sides) to consider a 3rd.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          The Wanderer (profile), 20 Mar 2017 @ 8:55am

          Re: Re: Re: A tale of a divided country

          Actually, the reason we continue to devolve back to two effective parties - no matter how many third parties get started, and even rise to temporary prominence, or possibly even supplant one of the existing two - is because, in a single-choice first-past-the-post voting system, that is the natural result of people voting in their own best interests.

          If 60% of the population opposes A, but that 60% is divided into 35% who support B and 25% who support C, and everyone votes for what they support, then the 40% who support A will win the election - even though the majority of people oppose A. This is known as the "spoiler effect".

          In a voting system where you can only pick one option from the list, and where whichever option gets the largest share of the vote wins, the "smart" thing for the people who support B and C to do is to join forces behind one of theose two options; that way, they can make sure the thing they oppose doesn't win, even if their first choice doesn't win either. The downside is that whichever of the two choices they don't unite behind seems to have no support, and disappears into obscurity, leaving behind only two options.

          The only solution to this is to switch to a ranked-preferences voting system, preferably one which satisfies the Condorcet criteria, so that people can instead list the available options in order from most preferred to least preferred. In a system like that, you can indicate that you prefer C over B, while still also being able to indicate that you prefer B over A - and the spoiler effect disappears, leaving room for people who like third-party candidates to express their actual preferences at the polls without negative consequences.

          I remember it being reported that Maine approved a ballot measure to switch to such a ranked-preference voting system, as part of the 2016 election. It will be worth watching closely to see what happens in the next elections in that state.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            That One Guy (profile), 20 Mar 2017 @ 9:29am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: A tale of a divided country

            If 60% of the population opposes A, but that 60% is divided into 35% who support B and 25% who support C, and everyone votes for what they support, then the 40% who support A will win the election - even though the majority of people oppose A. This is known as the "spoiler effect".

            Or as I like to call it 'Defensive voting', where you vote not according to who you do want in office, but who you don't.

            "I don't like A or B, and if I had any real choice I wouldn't vote for either of them, but given a choice between the two I like B slightly less, so I guess I'm voting for A."

            Ranked-preference would do a world of good in fixing that problem, but given it also stands to upset the status quo in allowing people to vote for who they actually want, rather than voting against who they don't want, I expect it would be fought by both parties as 'too disruptive' or 'too confusing to the general public.'

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              The Wanderer (profile), 21 Mar 2017 @ 7:20am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: A tale of a divided country

              The term "defensive voting" more properly refers to the reaction to the spoiler effect: the people who prefer C deciding to vote instead for B, in order to prevent A from being elected, with the side effect that the real degree of support for C is not visible in the election results.

              You're quite right that it's a major part of the problem, however, and that ranked-preference voting would seem to do away with the motivation for it.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 20 Mar 2017 @ 8:51am

        Re: Re: A tale of a divided country

        But then "both" sides would work together to downgrade any third parties that managed to show up, just like in real life with all political procedure rules.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Michael, 20 Mar 2017 @ 7:21am

    How can search results be offensive?

    I understand being offended by content on a specific web page, but how can the search results be offensive?

    If someone is offended by the results of their search, can't they just search for something else next time?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Mar 2017 @ 8:04am

    Google bubbles

    It will be interesting to see how strongly Google will apply its regional (IP address) "fencing" to this policy, which already gives highly censored search results based on what Google thinks that any particular IP address probably wants to see.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Mar 2017 @ 8:11am

    what is google?

    oh right the USA govt sponsored search engine.....

    sorry stopped using it years ago...

    use my own....nothing like having gigabit internet , and BOY DO I KNOW MORE THEN YOU

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 20 Mar 2017 @ 8:19am

      Re: what is google?

      Thank you for that scintillating and erudite post. You have completely changed my mind on the topic at hand. Wow, I'm astonished that you don't already write for a major publisher. Please tell me more!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 20 Mar 2017 @ 8:42am

      Re: what is google?

      A puny gigabit means that you will never be able to index more than a tiny corner of the Internet, and therefore you know much less than you think.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 20 Mar 2017 @ 8:53am

      Re: what is google?

      But who do you get your gigabit internet from? How do you know your ISP isn't pre-filtering your own search engines results?

      dun dun DUUUUN!!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      I.T. Guy, 20 Mar 2017 @ 10:16am

      Re: what is google?

      "BOY DO I KNOW MORE THEN YOU"
      You sir are so SMRT. I wish I could be like you, than I would know something or two huh? Like when to use then and than. Gee that would be useful as to not look like an idiot while berating others.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        bob, 20 Mar 2017 @ 11:03am

        Re: Re: what is google?

        AC obviously meant that he/she knew (in a biblical sense) a person by the name of more. Now they plan on getting to know you too *wink wink*

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Mar 2017 @ 9:31am

    the next news headlines

    Recently Google announced their latest effort to allow flagging of offensive content. Within days they we inundated with requests to negatively flag all websites critical of the current presidency

    In other news president Trump has stated his latest executive order that authorized the centralized control of all executive branch computers (for security reasons) to have been a great success.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    ECA (profile), 20 Mar 2017 @ 11:19am

    iNTERNET IS:

    Consider a Book of EVERYTHING..
    And you can either go and search the directory and Look at certain sections, or RANDOMLY open the book and find something different.

    THE PROBLEM, tends to be OUTSIDE EDITING..

    Like a Dictionary and someone Takes a Whole section(letter D) and changes the Order, changes the Meanings, Takes out the word THE' from any description..

    WHAT good is a Dictionary when everything is Mixed up??

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Roger Strong (profile), 20 Mar 2017 @ 12:45pm

    "Speech on the Internet can be unfiltered, unpolished, and unconventional, even emotionally charged, sexually explicit, and vulgar- in a word, 'indecent,' in many communities. But we should expect such speech to occur in a medium in which citizens from all walks of life have a voice. We should also protect the autonomy that such a medium confers to ordinary people as well as media magnates."

    • Judge Stewart Dalzell, ACLU v. Reno, 1996

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Eldakka (profile), 20 Mar 2017 @ 5:17pm

    They already have a porn filter

    I think this ranking of results should be introduced as another filter, like they have a porn filter, so that the searcher can choose whether or not to see results affected by this.

    I think they need to make 2 new filters.

    1) Nanny State Filter - this would incorporate the existing porn filter and this new 'offensive' results filter.

    2) Big Brother filter - this would do 2 things:
    a) filter out anything the local national government doesn't want you to see, pirate sites, electoral opposition, topics they don't want covered, i.e. a per-nation-tuned version of the Great Firewall.
    b) send every search query, and any resultant links clicked on, to the government, with identifying information, so the government can keep an eye on you.

    3) this isn't really a filter, it's an easy way to disable all the other filters, it's called the Freedom Button. Pressing this will disable all the filters.

    Then as a user you can choose, Freedom, Nanny Stage or Big Brother (or Nanny + Brother).

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Mar 2017 @ 6:30pm

    I must have missed the part where: 1. Google is the Internet police and 2. Where/why it can have its business dictated by outside entities.

    If only every misdeed in the world could be erased by telling Google to forget about it...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    SilverDeth, 20 Mar 2017 @ 11:40pm

    I have only one thing to say about Google...

    They are starting to look a lot like a monopoly to this little black ducks. Regulate them as a utility - I don't care anymore if they are a private company or not THEY CAN BAKE THE MOTHER-F*&^%$G CAKE TOO!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Wendy Cockcroft, 21 Mar 2017 @ 6:33am

      Re: I have only one thing to say about Google...

      Look up the word "monopoly."

      Now off you trot and carry out a search, on Google, for "search engines." Count how many there are and make a note of it. Now I have three questions:

      1. Did you find any other search engine than "Google"?

      2. How do the other search engines perform compared to Google?

      3. Is there any attempt made by Google to impede your ability to use these search engines, e.g. if you're using Chrome as a browser, does it flag up a warning telling you not to use these other search engines?

      Okay, after answering those questions (I'm not holding my breath), can you honestly declare that Google is a) the only search engine your browser allows you to use, even if your browser is Google, and b) that Google actively stops you from using other search engines whether you're using their browser/OS or not?

      If the answer to the final question is "No" on both counts, shut up and give it a rest. Feeding you ads based on your search patterns may be creepy but it's not the only search engine you can use so it's not a monopoly.

      This link shows you market share: https://www.netmarketshare.com/search-engine-market-share.aspx?qprid=4&qpcustomd=0

      That Google is the most popular engine is due to people being lazy, thinking of Google as "the internet," the fact that Chrome uses Google as its default search engine (you can change this in Settings), and the fact that it generally tends to return the results you're actually looking for. Once more with feeling, it's not a monopoly.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        PaulT (profile), 21 Mar 2017 @ 6:53am

        Re: Re: I have only one thing to say about Google...

        "That Google is the most popular engine is due to people being lazy, thinking of Google as "the internet,""

        That's part of its momentum, sure, but it's worth remembering that a lot of the reason for their popularity was that when they came along, they truly were the best at returning what people wanted. Those of us who remember AltaVista, Lycos, etc. remember how much of a breath of fresh air Google was at that time.

        That may no longer be true in all cases, but so long as it still works for people the majority of the time, people still choose it. That includes people who use other browsers, which default to different search engines (Microsoft's to Bing, Firefox to Yahoo), so if it was just people being lazy you'd maybe expect a higher marketshare for those 2 in the search space.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        The Wanderer (profile), 21 Mar 2017 @ 7:26am

        Re: Re: I have only one thing to say about Google...

        The defining characteristic of a monopoly is that it is the only place where you can buy the thing it's selling - whether because that thing is not sold anywhere else, or because you can't get to any of the other places where that thing is sold.

        You can get effective Web-search results from places other than Google (even if they may not be as good as the ones you get from Google), and as long as the network remains even vaguely neutral, you can get to those other places just as easily as you can get to Google. Thus, Google does not have a monopoly in the search market.

        There's more of an argument that Google may come close to a monopoly in the online-advertising market, but I don't think they pass that line even there.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 21 Mar 2017 @ 8:13am

      This again?

      Repeat after me: Just because a lot of people use a product and/or service does not make it a monopoly.

      Popularity does not equal monopoly, unless there are no other options available, so I'm curious as to what makes Google a monopoly in your mind.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Mar 2017 @ 12:50pm

    I can see some good usage for this. Operative word being some, not the majority.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Apr 2017 @ 10:59pm

    People should stop using Google services.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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