Web

New Google algorithm lowers search rankings for Holocaust denial sites

Google search
After facing considerable backlash over its most popular product, Search, Google has made some major changes.

Earlier this week, we reported that the first result for a query in the U.K. on whether the Holocaust happened claimed it did not — and that the result was returned from a white supremacist website. Now due to some alterations in its search algorithm, these sites are no longer the top results — they have not been removed, but their rankings are effectively lower.

Initially, the results only moved down a few spots in search rankings. It’s not the first time Google has been in hot water for its auto-complete and search results — an earlier review by The Guardian found how some auto-complete results suggested searching for “are jews evil,” “are women evil,” and “are muslims bad.”

Before Google issued its fix, several top results answered the queries about the Holocaust’s legitimacy in the affirmative with links to anti-Semitic and hate websites, with one top result even offering reasons as to “why Hitler was one of the good guys.”

When we reached out to Google, the company said its mission is to offer users diverse content from a variety of sources, but it doesn’t always “get it right.”

“Google was built on providing people with high-quality and authoritative results for their search queries,” a spokesperson told Digital Trends. “We strive to give users a breadth of diverse content from variety of sources and we’re committed to the principle of a free and open web. Judging which pages on the web best answer a query is a challenging problem and we don’t always get it right.”

When “non-authoritative information” ranks high in its results, the company says it develops scaleable and automated methods to fix the problem, “rather than manually removing these one by one.”

“We recently made improvements to our algorithm that will help surface more high quality, credible content on the web,” the spokesperson said. “We’ll continue to change our algorithms over time in order to tackle these challenges.”

Tech companies are increasingly facing criticism for perpetuating fake news. Facebook and Google are taking the issue seriously and have pledged to fix it — the former’s plan includes hiring a team of fact-checkers to eliminate fake news in its feed.

Article first published on 12-20-2016. Updated on 12-27-2016 by Julian Chokkattu: This article initially said Google removed holocaust-denying sites from its search rankings, but we have clarified it to say the search algorithm has ranked these sites lower — you can still find these sites on Google. We apologize for the error. 

Mobile

Tumblr for iOS vanishes from App Store, possibly due to inappropriate content

Tumblr for iOS is currently only allowing searches in Safe Mode, and it is not available on the App Store. The speculation is that the app's disappearance had something to do with inappropriate content.
Gaming

The Fix PUBG campaign is over: What’s next for ‘PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds’?

The PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds development team declared that the Fix PUBG campaign was over. Here are the results of the three-month campaign, as well as the future plans for the multiplayer Battle Royale shooter.
Photography

Photography news: Best spot for fall photos, new firmware from Fuji and Nikon

Where's the best spot to take fall photos? Michigan, according to social media and a Nikon contest. The results and more in this week's photography news, including significant firmware updates for the Fujifilm X-T3, X-H1, and GFX 50S.
Smart Home

Amazon has a huge team dedicated to enhancing Alexa and Echo

An Amazon executive on Tuesday, November 13 revealed the huge size of the team that's tasked with developing the Echo, the company's smart speaker, and Alexa, the digital assistant that powers it.
Music

Here's our head-to-head comparison of Pandora and Spotify

Which music streaming platform is best for you? We pit Spotify versus Pandora, two mighty streaming services with on-demand music and massive catalogs, comparing every facet of the two services to help you decide which is best.
Social Media

Going incognito: Here's how to appear offline on Facebook

How do you make sure your friends and family can't see if you're on Facebook, even if you are? Here, we'll show you how to turn off your active status on three different platforms, so you can browse Facebook without anyone knowing.
Outdoors

Aussies hope free Wi-Fi on their beaches will lead to fewer drownings

Lifeguards in Australia have hit on an idea to use Wi-Fi to make the nation's beaches safer. It's a simple but clever idea that plays on our need to stay connected around the clock.
Computing

Our 10 favorite Chrome themes add some much-needed pizzazz to your boring browser

Sometimes you just want Chrome to show a little personality and ditch the grayscale for something a little more lively. Lucky for you, we've sorted through the Chrome Web Store to find best Chrome themes available.
Computing

How to easily record your laptop screen with apps you already have

Learning how to record your computer screen shouldn't be a challenge. Lucky for you, our comprehensive guide lays out how to do so using a host of methods, including both free and premium utilities, in both MacOS and Windows 10.
Gaming

These are the coolest games you can play on your Google Chrome browser right now

Not only is Google Chrome a fantastic web browser, it's also a versatile gaming platform that you can access from just about anywhere. Here are a few of our favorite titles for the platform.
Smart Home

Amazon will bring a 7-foot-tall Christmas tree to your doorstep starting today

If you have fond memories of going out with your family and searching for the perfect Christmas tree, well, Amazon wants to create its own holiday tradition. Starting today, you can order a real, 7-foot tree from Amazon.
Computing

Reluctant to give your email address away? Here's how to make a disposable one

Want to sign up for a service without the risk of flooding your inbox with copious amounts of spam and unwanted email? You might want to consider using disposable email addresses via one of these handy services.
Computing

Need a free alternative to Adobe Illustrator? Here are our favorites

Photoshop and other commercial tools can be expensive, but drawing software doesn't need to be. This list of the best free drawing software is just as powerful as some of the more expensive offerings.
Mobile

Google replaces its classic Search page with Discover on mobile devices

As part of its 20th anniversary, Google unveiled its plans to improve Search, starting with its Google Feed. Now known as Discover, the update brings along a redesign to help you find content that aligns with your interests.