One of the ways that Google Home is able to provide information to your voice inquiries so quickly is that it utilizes Google’s search snippets feature. This feature pulls a special block of text from popular web pages that have the answer to the question Google thinks you’re asking. The problem with this approach? It doesn’t filter out fake news sites.
A new report shows just how bad Google is at filtering through these fake news sites with their snippets feature, so much so that it seems as though this issue is just as big as Facebook’s problem of letting an algorithm decide what news should be trending instead of human eyes.
A university lecturer in the United States was recently taken aback when his students asked him if any presidents were members of the Ku Klux Klan. When the professor stated that there weren’t any presidential members of the KKK, students whipped out their phones in an attempt to refute their professor with fake news offered by Google Snippets.
In fact, Google’s snippets feature reported that five presidents were members of the KKK, including Warren Harding, Woodrow Wilson, William McKinley, and Harry Truman. The snippet comes from a website called The Trent Online, which bills itself as the leading internet newspaper in Nigeria. That article further sources an article that comes from ilovebackpeople.net.
This issue highlights a real problem with Google Home and Amazon Alexa, especially if they’re relying on unvetted informational snippets that are chosen by an algorithm. In fact, this is no different than Facebook’s fake news issue after the company fired all of its human editors in order to rely on an algorithm to display trending news.
Don’t believe me? If you have a Google Home, ask it “Who is the king of the United States?” and check out the source article.