Tech

Google to remove autocomplete suggestions that target candidates or voting

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Google said that it will remove search autocomplete predictions that could be interpreted as claims for or against any candidate or political party. Any Autocomplete predictions that endorse or oppose a candidate or a political party will now be removed.

That would mean eliminating predictions like – you can vote by phone,you can’t vote by phone, or anything suggesting that you donate to a party or candidate.

The company also plans to remove statements about voting methods and the status of voting locations as well as the legitimacy of elections including the security of the election.Google announced these changes at an online press event, as well as in a blog post.

Google said it has taken a number of steps to improve the quality of information that it highlights across its various search engines and news products ahead of the US presidential election.

Google autocomplete is a feature that recommends searches based on what a user is typing into the search box in a Chrome browser or on Google.com.

Users will still be able to search for information around voting or candidates — they will just not get to see those queries automatically, and thus it will become difficult for a candidate or party to use Autocomplete to drive users to a desirable search.

The policy update comes as Google, among other firms like Facebook and Twitter which are trying to cut down on misinformation, prepares for a heated presidential election.

Other than these changes and progress that Google is also introducing the formation of an Intelligence Desk, a team of analysts that monitors the news and identifies potential information threats. Google from now on will be able to identify breaking news in just a few minutes, in comparison to 40 minutes a few years ago. New programs are designed to prevent vandalism on Wikipedia from sneaking onto the Knowledge Graph panels that appear alongwith the search results; and fact-check labels in Google Images.

Google also said, “It has an Intelligence Desk, which is a global team of analysts monitoring news events 24 hours a day. The same desk has been responsible for monitoring claims about Coronavirus treatments. The group will keep a close watch on Election Day to prevent too early election outcomes from appearing in search.”

David Graff, Google’s senior director of global policy and standards, said that this is merely an extension of the company’s existing policies, and not so much a completely new policy or philosophical approach.

He added, “We’re acutely aware that with this upcoming election people have strong opinions and given the backdrop of COVID, there’s a lot of questions about voting information and how that might play out against the backdrop of the pandemic.”

PanduNayak, who heads Google’s search quality team, also said this policy will leave the vast majority of Autocomplete suggestions completely untouched.

“They get an outsized discussion around them, of course, but they’re actually a very small fraction of Autocompletes,” he said.