Google can't tell real from fake tech news, promotes fake Galaxy S8 and iPhone 8 news to top results

Google can't tell real from fake tech news, promotes fake Galaxy S8 and iPhone 8 news to top results

Google is an ambitious project: starting as a simple search engine, it wants to be able to give you more than just a couple of links that you have to sort out. It wants to actually give you useful answers to your questions. It uses complicated networks and artificial intelligence, and a lot goes into making Google what it is today.

And while it all has a noble goal, one also ought to remember the old saying that the road to ruin is paved with good intentions.

We've all heard about the problem with fake news stories on Facebook and chances are that you've seen them in your newsfeed. This affects things on a global scale: the U.S. election is just one recent example that shows how hard it is to fight against the proliferation of fake news.

Unfortunately, the same problem persists on Google and it's not just about politics. Take a look at this highlighted result that Google's algorithms have chosen to highlight as the answer to a question that a lot of consumers are interested in: the answer to the query 'galaxy s8 price'.

Google can't tell real from fake tech news, promotes fake Galaxy S8 and iPhone 8 news to top results

The first and biggest problem with this result is the way Google presents it: it is promoted in a specially formatted table and it is shown above all other results, a clear indication that this is a special, hand-picked answer that Google wants you to pay attention to.

It's only natural that if you trust Google - and it's generally a trust-worthy company - you as a reader would accept this information as a fact.

It's far from it.

This is a manufactured table that holds no real value: it's guess-work that could be created by every other 15-year-old that reads about tech. The truth is that the answer to the query 'galaxy s8 price' is closer to that: "Samsung has not officially announced it yet".

One could also add that the Galaxy S8 price is likely to be on par with the price of a mainstream flagship, and that would be one useful guess, but nonetheless a guess. Will it be $850 as Google's specially highlighted and promoted table claims? The Galaxy S7 official retail price stands at $672 at most carriers, so this is not even good guess-work.

Is this an isolated incident?

Far from it.

You can try Googling 'iPhone 8 price' and you will get a similarly junky result promoted to the top of Google's ranks and formatted to a table to make it look even more convincing.

Google can't tell real from fake tech news, promotes fake Galaxy S8 and iPhone 8 news to top results

That is bad practice and we hope Google fixes not only these few results that we have given as examples, but the approach that its algorithm uses. In a world where one search engine rules them all, we are otherwise doomed to a future of misinformation.

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38 Comments

1. wando77

Posts: 1166; Member since: Aug 23, 2012

So you would prefer Google to produce ZERO results while you continue to post s8 rumour articles?

4. Victor.H

Posts: 1026; Member since: May 27, 2011

I would ideally like to see a true answer to my query, is that too much to ask?

12. Scott93274

Posts: 6025; Member since: Aug 06, 2013

The results wouldn't be an issue if each stat for the devices had "Speculated" next to it... But as it stands, that's something that is dependent on the people responsible for the source of the information. I'll admit that it is a problem for Google and for their users, but expecting Google to validate the results for an infinite amount of possible queries is a tall order. Google is always updating their algorithms to better their search results, but users have to have some amount of common sense to identify the source of the links provided and be able to distinguish a valid source of information from an invalid one...

23. McLTE

Posts: 922; Member since: Oct 18, 2011

This x1000. This is like a news stand supplying newspapers and tabloids to customers and having someone expect the news stand to go and validate every article for accuracy. This article is totally ridiculous. How is Google responsible for validating the legitimacy of the content? It's a search engine that aggregates data. If you click a link and you assume it's true, it's YOUR problem. I do searches and look at results with a high level of skepticism, depending on the SOURCE of the link.

15. trojan_horse

Posts: 5868; Member since: May 06, 2016

Right! I saw the screenshot of the Galaxy S8's specs: "Snapdragon Qualcomm octa-core 3.2GHz processor." 3.2 GHz?!? WTF Google!

34. NarutoKage14

Posts: 1293; Member since: Aug 31, 2016

Rasengan!

22. NarutoKage14

Posts: 1293; Member since: Aug 31, 2016

People could also spend the extra 5-10 minutes to cross check the information they want from multiple sources. It doesn't take a genius to know that information on unannounced and unreleased products is only speculative at best. It's not that hard to use some common sense, is that too much to ask?

25. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

Actually...YES IT IS! Aren't you smart enough to know that? Search engines simply look for results that match your request. That means using keywords mostly. So if your keywords provide fake results, its because someone placed fake info on the web. But you can't always tell truth from lies. Even reputable sources have posted fake news, but at least when they find out they come back and tell you so. PA doesn't! You all live on fake news. Right now i can find at least 25 stories on PA just placed in the last quarter. Like the fake news articles on the Note 7 you all posted. When in fact the device in question, wasn't even a Note 7 to begin with. Just be honest. You all don't give a care about what is true of not. All you care about is what will drive traffic. fake news drives traffic just as equally as truth. What you are asking for is simply impossible! After all, tabloid magazines have been publishing exaggerated BS for years. I still see them on the shelves and we all know its fake news and I watch people read the covers and the insides and actually believe the crap is true. if you own brain can't define what is fake or not, then how do you expect a person with such a brain to program code to do any different? You're blaming Google for what is a typical human deficiency, which your won sites purposely takes advantage of and we see every single day. More hypocrisy from Victor H IMO.

39. xfire99

Posts: 1204; Member since: Mar 14, 2012

I would like too see true facts with Samsung officially confirmed headphone jack removed on Galaxy S8 before you write such meaningsless article:http://www.phonearena.com/news/Samsung-Galaxy-S8-without-headphone-jack-here-is-the-unequivocal-vote-of-users_id88814 What the difference between that article and google results?

14. HugoBarraCyanogenmod

Posts: 1408; Member since: Jul 06, 2014

Still done better managing fake news than Huffington Post, Buzzfeed, mashable, Vox, AJ+ Ditched almost every media except since November. Breitbart is the only one I trust

21. civicsr2cool

Posts: 249; Member since: Oct 19, 2016

AMEN!

29. willard12 unregistered

Consume whatever news you'd like. We only ask that you not let it lead you to killing innocent people as a result. https://trofire.com/2016/12/06/breitbarts-pizzagate-conspiracy-fake-news-inspires-real-violence/ Prayers to the victims. AMEN!

33. blazee

Posts: 414; Member since: Jan 02, 2012

It's the era of backwards it seems. Facts don't matter anymore as long as your fake articles support your ideology. I'm talking about Breitbart.

2. xondk

Posts: 1904; Member since: Mar 25, 2014

honestly this article is way, way way off. Google shows what is relevant to your search it does not and should not filter content, it generally tries to match find what you search for, in this case it gives rumours about Samsung galaxy s8 because that's all there is out there, rumours. And then it sorts it along what has been most clicked on or other metrics for 'relevance' So yeah....it isn't google's job to filter out 'real' or 'fake' news, that's up to the users themselves.

3. wando77

Posts: 1166; Member since: Aug 23, 2012

Well said

6. Victor.H

Posts: 1026; Member since: May 27, 2011

Yeah, mate, you say it isn't Google's job to filter out news, but you can read in the article how Google filtered results and put a fake result on top of the list. And it even formatted it as a table.

8. xondk

Posts: 1904; Member since: Mar 25, 2014

Yup, and that is bad, they shouldn't filter results, because that basically means they can scrub the internet, google is still the general front page to the internet for most, and if google only shows what they want to show, or pushes one thing, removes others, yeah that is just generally bad.

36. joey_sfb

Posts: 6794; Member since: Mar 29, 2012

Victor.H, most of us here know that search result are just that, it may or may not be true. I would be very upset if Google become the governors of our information pipeline. What next, become our morality judges as well? Show us things that Google approve to be morally upright?

7. Scott93274

Posts: 6025; Member since: Aug 06, 2013

While you are correct, it doesn't make it any less of an issue for them. The examples they provided are easily identified as speculation from the people who visit this site because we know better. But then you have the gullible, the uneducated (and by that I do not mean stupid, but those who simply do not know better), who are incapable of distinguishing fact from fiction, and what happens when it's something that is infinitely more important than the price and release date of a smartphone? What happens when Click Bait runs rampant, reporting lies about political candidates? My Facebook page was overrun with links to fake news, people posting nonsense that they believed true. It becomes a major problem. Hell, someone was just arrested for shooting off several rounds in a pizza joint in Washington DC because he went to self-investigate a fake news article. It is very important for everyone's sake that a method is put into place that limits fake news from reaching the masses. Satirical nonsense like the Onion is one thing, but targeting the ignorant for the sake of influencing an election or for financial gain is something else entirely.

9. xondk

Posts: 1904; Member since: Mar 25, 2014

Yup, but as mentioned above, if google begins to 'clean up' the net, who's standards are they going to do that by? then all of a sudden you get biased information based on what one group thinks, the idea of the internet being open only works if people aren't allowed to filter it. If people cannot do critical thinking on their own, then that is something google cannot really help. At least not by filtering information. If anything maybe google should have a training course people can take to promote critical thinking? because there's a disturbing lack of it, that I entirely agree. But it doesn't help the fact if you protect people from their own ignorance/lack of critical thinking, that doesn't promote them to do so, it only hands power over them to the hands that control for example, what google would show.

13. Scott93274

Posts: 6025; Member since: Aug 06, 2013

Damn you and your logic. lol, you do bring up valid concerns. I suppose that with each link provided, additional information could be presented providing information about the domain like the registered date, who or what organisation it's registered to, country of origin, drop down fields containing links to various wikis with user input about the domains. This would allow people to do their own research into the source of the links, know where the information is coming from and measure the validity of the results from that.

18. trojan_horse

Posts: 5868; Member since: May 06, 2016

Damn Scott...Well thought-out post! Shouldn't you work as an advicer for the Google Search department? You seem perfect for that job.

19. Scott93274

Posts: 6025; Member since: Aug 06, 2013

LOL, well, if you can't fix a problem, at least give people easy to use tools to educate themselves to make the internet more transparent.

26. xondk

Posts: 1904; Member since: Mar 25, 2014

they 'can' do so with all the information provided now, when they click the link? problem seems to be they aren't interested in doing it?

17. Victor.H

Posts: 1026; Member since: May 27, 2011

Oh what a great point about critical thinking. But I disagree that Google can't help: if it was serious about it, it could do more to make clear the origins of a website, the affiliation of its creators and so on. It's complicated, but not impossible.

27. xondk

Posts: 1904; Member since: Mar 25, 2014

Err, I included one possible way of them helping? I just indicated that google 'filtering' stuff based on some person or organisations view on what should be filtered is not the way? removing or changing stuff does not help, giving more people more information would probably be useful. That said, once you click a link it is pretty clear where you are? so if you are so inclined you can do checks yourself from that? I will gladly admit I am not sure how it can be anymore obvious then it is, when you are already on a page.

24. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

The person who went to the pizza place beased on fake news, was a stupid gun happy idiot and I am glad he's going to prison. You may be afraid to say it, but I'm not. There are yes, less knowledable people, peopel who are gillible and yes theer are peopel who are just plain stupid. It is what it is. Its not being mean, when it is simply just fact. A real tech person whould be able to tell fake news from the real news. What I fine interesting as the first poster said, Victor is complaining about fake new results; when you guys post rumors and fake news reports all the time. You calling Google out for such, when you won employees are just as bad or worse. That really calling the kettle black. VERY HYPOCRITICAL!

10. sissy246

Posts: 6950; Member since: Mar 04, 2015

Well said.

5. Bankz

Posts: 2476; Member since: Apr 08, 2016

All AI's are overrated tbh

11. RebelwithoutaClue

Posts: 5482; Member since: Apr 05, 2013

Hand-picked? By an algorithm ;)

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