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October 6, 2017

YouTube reportedly alters search algorithm after Las Vegas shooting

by John_A

YouTube has updated its search engine in an effort to promote more authoritative videos, hoping to diminish the reach of conspiracy theories, harmful messages and misinformation on the platform, The Wall Street Journal reports. The changes follow the mass shooting in Las Vegas this week, wherein a gunman killed 58 people and wounded more than 500 others at a music festival on the Strip. After the shooting, videos propagating conspiracy theories and misinformation started climbing the ranks in YouTube’s search results — Google and Facebook faced similar problems this week.

For example, The WSJ says on Tuesday night, the fifth result for “Las Vegas shooting” on YouTube was a video titled, “Proof Las Vegas Shooting Was a FALSE FLAG attack — Shooter on 4th Floor,” a rumor that has been repeatedly refuted by authorities.

YouTube rolled out the changes on Wednesday night, accelerating its existing plans to tweak the search engine. The update targets search results about major news events — including the NFL protests — and is designed to keep inaccurate videos at bay. The company didn’t provide details about how it defines “authoritative” sources, The WSJ says.

Google and Facebook both scrambled to fix their own news algorithms this week after promoting troll threads and false stories about the Las Vegas shooting.

“Unfortunately, early this morning we were briefly surfacing an inaccurate 4chan website in our Search results for a small number of queries,” Google said in a statement. “Within hours, the 4chan story was algorithmically replaced by relevant results. This should not have appeared for any queries, and we’ll continue to make algorithmic improvements to prevent this from happening in the future.”

Source: The Wall Street Journal

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