Google Home Lambasted For Spreading Fake News And Conspiracy Theories

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Mar 6, 2017
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Google Assistant on Google Home is in the news but for all the wrong reasons. Apparently, BBC media has covered a story wherein they have lambasted Google’s search algorithms on Google Home for spreading false news and baseless theories (mostly, conspiracy). The news came in light when BBC’s tech reporter Rory Cellan-Jones tweeted a video, in which Rory asks the Google Home – “Is Obama planning a coup? And the smart device responds – “Obama may, in fact, be planning a Communist coup d’etat at the end of his term in 2016.”

The video has created quite a stir on the internet after it made its way on Twitter, yesterday. The tweet by Rory inspired many other Twitter users like Danny Sullivan, who also tweeted a video featuring Google Home in a Q&A, wherein Sullivan asks the Smart Home device – “Are Republicans fascists?”, And the Assistant replies, “Yes. Republicans equal Nazis.”

Soon after the video made its way to other media outlets, Google’s spokesperson tried to explain the working of Featured Snippet algorithm in a statement given to Business Insider. The statement reads:

“Featured Snippets in Search provide an automatic and algorithmic match to a given search query, and the content comes from third-party sites. Unfortunately, there are instances when we feature a site with inappropriate or misleading content. When we are alerted to a Featured Snippet that violates our policies, we work quickly to remove them, which we have done in this instance. We apologize for any offense this may have caused.”

The Featured Snippet algorithm is also a part of Google Assistant, and hence it fetches the quick search results for most of the voice-activated queries via Google Home. It seems like Google has deep rooted issues with its Smart devices which use the algorithm as users cannot verify the result as they are not on the viewing but listening end. Google’s source verification algorithms are at the major fault here as they fetch answers from the internet without verifying.

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This is not the first time when Google has come under fire for its faulty algorithm that encourages fake news. Throughout the recent US presidential elections Google search results were brimming with fake news stories. Taking a cue from Google’s fake news fiasco, companies like Facebook and Apple are finding ways to ensure that their algorithms work smarter and do not bring up conspiracy theories in the search results.

Last month, at the CodeMedia conference, Apple’s senior vice president of software and services, Eddy Cue spoke on the fake news issue on Apple news and how the company is trying to combat it. He said:

“We want Apple News to be available to everyone, but we want to vet and make sure that the news providers are legitimate. We’re very concerned about all of the news items and the clickbait from that standpoint, and that’s driving a lot of the news coverage. We’re trying to do some things in Apple News, we’re learning from that and we need to share that together as an industry and improve it.”

Google really needs to clean up its act and tweak its algorithm to refrain from showing up conspiracy theories by baseless third-party websites.

Do you have Google Home smart speakers? If yes, then have you ever come across such conspiracy theories as an answer to your political question? Share your experience with us in the comment section below.

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