Google's 'Project Owl' to Improve Searching, Surfing & Safety

Last Update: August 09, 2019

LOTS OF IMPROVEMENTS AT GOOGLE

I recently wrote a HOW TO blog on my HEN Affiliates website called The Simplest Ways to Survive Google’s Newest Algorithm Changes.

Google has been changing their algorithm quite often and most recently gave their advice with a number of questions for content writers. These questions pertain to the direction they want your website articles to go. One main reason why Google is so adament about high quality content--lately, in particular,-- is because of a huge issue they have been facing since last December.

FAKE NEWS AND PROBLEMATIC CONTENT

There has been an increasing search quality problem that has resulted from fake news, disturbing answers and offensive search suggestions appearing at the top of the search results. So, in order to get a handle on it all, Google formed "Project Owl" to address these issues in hopes to put emphasis on authoritative content.

It's true that for years Google had issues like this, but unfortunately now it has gotten much worse. It goes beyond SPAM to content that is falsified and offensive. So now, Google is taking action.

This past February, Google began beta-testing and allowing people to report problematic search suggestions, and today, it is live for everyone worldwide. I will discuss this more below.

PROJECT OWL

Google named this new approach to problematic content "Project Owl" for a distinct reason. An owl represents wisdom, the perfect symbol for this project. Google wants to bring back wisdom onto their platform.

PROBLEMATIC SEARCHES

This is a term that defines how people are producing mass content to serve their unruly opinions regardless of the actual facts. Furthermore, people are searching and finding this content in volumes---so much, that it is greatly influencing the search suggestions in offensive and dangerous ways. This poor-quality content has shown up for popular searches and it is completely fake news that people totally make up and fabricate.

I mean, can you imagine what this could lead to? Not trusting whether or not the articles we read on the net are true or not?


IMPROVING AUTOCOMPLETE SEARCH SUGGESTIONS

Google has gone to great measures to improve the autocomplete search suggestions. You know, when you begin to type a search and suggestions drop down to speed up your search. (like the Alphabet Soup method).

So now, these suggestions are leading people array and detouring them into problematic topics--Black topics. It reminds me of the dark web.

Now, a new Report inappropriate predictions” link will appear below the search box. When clicking that link, it brings up a form that people can select a prediction(s) on certain issues and report them.

These unsavory predictions can be reported as sexually explicit, violent, hateful or including dangerous and harmful activity. It also includes an “Other” category and comments are allowed. Sadly, Google has never before published reasons why something might be removed...until now.


DO YOU THINK THIS NEW SYSTEM WILL HELP? IF SO--HOW?

You can leave your comments and input below, if you'd like.

Google hopes the feedback from this project will be helpful and useful so that this information can make algorithm changes that improve all search suggestions.

Hopefully, in my opinion, this project won't backfire, causing true high quality content to be pulled from the searches, mistaking it for problematic. They will have to get several of the same complaints probably to pull it.

It's too bad that there are people out there who abuse the system. But, Google is right on top of it! This really puts into perspective how important it is to write genuine, high quality content, and develop a trustworthy website! Now you know why Google ranks you up so high if you do!

If you wish, please LIKE and SHARE this "high quality content" to spread the news!

Erin :)!

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SimoninAsia Premium Featured Comment
Personally this all makes me very wary. I don't trust huge corporations like Google to act as arbiters of what is true and untrue, offensive or inoffensive. Recent cases of Facebook, Twitter and YouTube discriminating against conservative voices point to how this could very easily lead to reporting people to silence opinions you simply disagree with.
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herinnelson Premium
Yes, Simon, you state a good point. It could actually blow up to something that gets out of hand. It seems every action taken nowadays has to be handled delicately and tip toed around.

Erin :)!
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dj-drea Premium
I think of it as a google censorship algorithm. While I agree that there is some untruthful content out there, I also know that google has been censoring unpopular content and content that goes against the status quo (doesn't matter how well sourced the info is, if it goes against the political and social agenda, it is being censored). I also think of an owl as being watchful and hidden in the dark. A predator that eats its prey in the dark of the night. I personally don't like it.
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herinnelson Premium
Interesting take on this, Andrea and I respect your bold opinion. It's too bad that Google has to resort to censoring certain content. I guess with their new algorithm and explicit guide rule questions, it will hopefully help all around. What a mess! Thanks for your input!

Erin :)!
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herinnelson Premium
It's listed right below, Simon. It says:
Personally this all makes me very wary. I don't trust huge corporations like Google to act as arbiters of what is true and untrue, offensive or inoffensive. Recent cases of Facebook, Twitter and YouTube discriminating against conservative voices point to how this could very easily lead to reporting people to silence opinions you simply disagree with.

..and I replied:
Yes, Simon, you state a good point. It could actually blow up to something that gets out of hand. It seems every action taken nowadays has to be handled delicately and tip toed around.

Erin :)!
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herinnelson Premium
No biggy! :)
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AlexEvans Premium
Thank you for sharing, Erin, I haven't come across this on my travels. I think that Google has its work cut out, to shore up the ship.

It will be interesting how the next 18 months pan out for the media giant.

It is good that they are taking measures, to target fake news, disinformation and the likes.

It is a worthy process.

Hopefully, it won't be open to abuse.
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herinnelson Premium
Hi Alex and glad you stopped by! Yes, it will be interesting as to what steps they take down the road. Great snapshot! I hope it was just to show an example and that someone didn't really think that search was hateful. lol

Erin :)!
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AlexEvans Premium
Classic, no just an example. It is exceptionally good that they are taking steps to tidy things up and make the internet a safer place.
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JohnFricker Premium
"See something, say something". This is no different. I'm for it. It's just an option, and it's something you can do if what you see is obviously not right. and potentially very harmful. Fake news, dark web, racism, hate, fear-mongering, political manipulation and corruption....Google and other search firms are under extreme pressure to do something, anything to help disrupt the evil intentions and efforts of those who wish to do harm. We must stand up for ourselves and for each other or we stand for nothing.
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herinnelson Premium
Wow, John! Precisely! Very well-stated and sincere, and I'm with you! Banding together for a good cause is what must always take place in situations like this. Thank you, my friend!

Erin :)!
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jusoo Premium
Hi Erin,

Thank you for explanation of 'Project Owl', which I can understand.

Jusoo
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herinnelson Premium
You're quite welcome, my friend!

Erin :)!
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firstlearn Premium
Thank you for the analysis of the latest Google algorithm changes Erin.

These changes tend to affect us all in some way.

Derek
Reply
herinnelson Premium
Absolutely, Derek, and we must guard ourselves against such things.

Erin :)!
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Joes946 Premium
Erin, this is great information. You do a great job with it.
Thanks for a great post.
Joe
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herinnelson Premium
My pleasure, Joe. I appreciate you coming by, my friend!

Erin :)!
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Mordenrose Premium
There are times when disturbing news is actually true and people respond to it with apathy because they don't know what is true and untrue anymore. I have witnessed that type of reaction around me.
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herinnelson Premium
Precisely, Marina. Sadly, we simply have to do our best to avoid it and be very skeptical. It is great Google is putting forth their best effort to cut down on it! Thanks for your input, my dear!

Erin :)!
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AlfredDvorak Premium
Hallo Erin!
Die Wahrheit im Internet - ist für den erfolgreichen Bestand des Internets sehr, sehr wichtig.
Google wird es schaffen.
Mit freundlichen Grüßen
von alfred dvorak
Reply
herinnelson Premium
Hi Alfred: I will translate so people can understand your words:
"For the truth on the internet -- is very, very important for the successful existence of the internet. Google will do it. Sincerely, Alfred Dvorak"

Absolutely, my friend. The internet is a force that everyone uses for just about everything. It needs to be honest in order to be successful and for people to succeed online. Nice to connect with you!

Erin :)!
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GazBower Premium
I do agree something needs to be done about harmful, inappropriate and sexually explicit content. However, I agree that people should be able to search for whatever they want within reason. This opens up the possibility of content being shut down just because a small minority don't agree with it.
This is censorship and people being told what opinions they are allowed to hold is wrong.
Fake News works both ways
Global media companies shouldn't be in a position to decide what is true and what is false.
In light of this my hope is that Google don't take this too far. Sure they can highlight what they think is suspicious or harmful content but at the end of the day people should be able to make up their own minds.
Just my opinion by all means disagree if you like, that's the beauty of free speach.
Regards

Gaz
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herinnelson Premium
You pose some great arguments here, Gaz! People have the right to free speech. But, then again, some take that right too far where it hurts the common good. It's a very touchy situation that Google needs to handle with extreme care. Great thoughts, my dear! xo

Erin :)!
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terrycarroll Premium
I applaud these changes and unlike Sherlock77 in the response below, I do not see them as being imposed in a Big Brother manner. The "Report inappropriate predictions" option is just that, an option.
You can either type through the predictive suggestions until you complete your search topic or just not report the problem. It is not compulsary but I see it as a way of allowing the searcher to override any Google "preferences".
I am all for it and it's about time Facebook and Twitter did a similar exercise.

Thanks for aharing, Erin

Terry
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herinnelson Premium
Great take on the situation, Terry, and I can see your point. I think we should be given the "option" of reporting scandalous and inappropriate content as a way of eliminating it...if it is truly obvious spam. I also think that Google is just protecting their searches to make them appropriate and helpful for their searchers. Giving the option to report any suspicions is their way of both protecting their viewers, as well as themselves. We've lived by their rules in the past, and will live by them in the future!

Erin :)!
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sherlock77 Premium
I actually think people should be allowed to search for whatever content they want to search for online (within reason). It shouldn't be up to Google to decide what people should view and what they shouldn't.

Google has its own agenda, and that agenda is NOT to give people the most relevant results for their search query these days.

With some types of searches, practically the same 10 corporate websites continually dominate the first page of results. Either that or half the first page is ads.

Google was invented as a way for people to be able to find websites and information online. Now they are so huge and powerful, they've decided they'll dictate what we're allowed to see and what we cannot.

They've become yet another "big brother" government department.
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herinnelson Premium
You've proved some great insight here, Darren, and what you said tends to be true. I don't think Google is trying to "completely" control the searches that take place on their platform, but maybe eliminate "obvious" potentially harmful and hateful information. WHAT information is tagged harmful and hateful remains to be seen. There's a fine line here that they, of course, have the final say about, but giving people the "option" to report doesn't make them in "complete" control. It gives others a chance to voice their opinions, as well.

Thank you for your input!!

Erin :)!
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JKulk1 Premium
They sound like much needed changes to me. Jim
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herinnelson Premium
I definitely agree, Jim!

Erin :)!
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