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  • Writer's pictureedbaig

Election/COVID season: Google highlights measures to ensure timely and accurate search results

With a presidential election two months away, no immediate end in sight for the coronavirus pandemic and wildfires raging on the west coast, getting fast, truthful, relevant and authoritative responses to the billions of search queries Google fields daily has arguably never been more critical.

On Thursday, Google shared many of its fresh and ongoing activities that are meant to ensure high-quality search results. For example, Google has created an Intelligence Desk consisting of a global team of analysts tasked with monitoring news data 24/7. It was born out of an existing SOS crisis management team. Google says it now able to detect breaking news and crises in a few minutes, compared to upwards of 40 minutes just a few years back.

Google is also implementing measures to combat online vandalism. Along those lines, the search giant is teaming up with volunteer Wikipedia editors to ensure neutrality and accuracy on Wikipedia by adding Google’s own layers of protections and detection systems. On those rare occasions where instances of vandalism slip through—and 99% of cases are detected, Google says--quick action can be taken to remedy the falsehoods. Via a crowd-sourced WikiLoopDoubleCheck tool, editors can to identify and flag potential issues.

Beyond Wikipedia, Google says it deepened partnerships with government agencies, non partisan civic outfits, and health organizations around the world to secure more accurate search results visible to users via "knowledge panels." These are derived from Google's "Knowledge Graph."

Google also says it is making it easier for people to spot fact check labels from publishers that

use the ClaimReview structured data format. According to Google, people have viewed such fact checks on Search and News more than 4 billion times, more than all of last year combined.

The company also expanded policies around “autocomplete” predictions so that such predictions cannot reflect bias. As part of a blog post, Google outlined a couple of autocomplete predictions that would not fly under the latest policies: “You can vote by phone” as well as “you can't vote by phone,” or a prediction that says “donate to” any party or candidate. People can still manually enter these or other search queries that wouldn't be filled in automatically.

As for the upcoming election, David Graff, senior director for global policy and standards at Google said, “I’m confident that we all recognize the challenges associated with all of this and we are geared up to meet them.”

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