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'.

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".

Recommended Stories
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.

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.

Recommended Stories

Loading Comments...
FCC OKs Cingular\'s purchase of AT&T Wireless