While the internet has helped people make great changes and improvements in their life, it would be wrong to say that it has always been a power for good. There are plenty of dark places and scams taking place on the internet but for many people, the biggest issue is the fact that there are so many falsehoods, lies and mistruths to be found on the internet. In an ideal world, the internet wouldn’t contain lies or untrue facts, because it is true about a lie being told so many times will eventually become the truth in life.
When you click on a link from a search engine, you expect the first result or results to be reliable and trustworthy. This isn’t necessarily the case though and this is down to the way that web pages are ranked. Web pages are not ranked on their accuracy or usefulness to you (not really), they are ranked on popularity. Yes, no one really knows the algorithms used by Google but in trying to determine what is the most relevant page or answer, popularity, such as with links pointing to a site, you may find yourself stumbling on a page that looks legitimate but which offers misinformation.
A more reliable internet search will be of benefit
This is something that Google is trying to alter and if New Scientist is to be believed, Google are working on a system that will allow websites to be ranked for their accuracy as opposed to their popularity. This could be a game-changer with respect to knowledge and information sharing online and according to a paper issued based on the idea of Knowledge Based Trust, KBT, it may not be that far away. KBT looks set to be an alternative way of examining web pages and then using it to determine how accurate and reliable they are.
The new report suggests that it will be possible to evaluate a site on the number of facts that are false on the page and a page that has fewer false facts will be deemed to be more trustworthy than other pages.
The way that this ranking will work will likely come from a process of Google extracting information from the site and then comparing it with facts and knowledge that they have stored in their own knowledge base. Even if an individual page doesn’t contain facts that can be checked, the overall veracity of the site will have an impact on the ranking of the site. This news won’t come as the biggest surprise because Google has been collating knowledge and information for a number of years. Back in 2012, the site introduced a knowledge graph and there is clearly the ability and desire to provide links and findings that are more accurate for users.
Whether this move will eventually see Google switch to a knowledge based ranking or whether this will merely sit alongside the other components that help to rank a site remains to be seen.