Wednesday, 08 March 2017 05:45

Don't believe everything you search on Google


SAN FRANCISCO — Don't believe everything you search. Or at least, not the featured snippets that Google puts at the top of search results.

The featured snippets are one of the 10 top search results Google displays in a special box. And they are in the spotlight thanks to longtime Google observer Danny Sullivan, founding editor of the blog Search Engine Land. Sullivan says the snippets, which he has dubbed Google's "one true answer" feature, can be deeply flawed. How flawed? "Sometimes these answers are terribly wrong," Sullivan says.

Recent examples? One featured snippet claimed some U.S. presidents were members of the Ku Klux Klan. (False). Another claimed President Obama was planning a coup d'etat. (Only if you scrolled down did you stumble on an ABC news story debunking the snippet).

Google isn't even telling you the truth about how long it takes to caramelize onions ("28 minutes if you cooked them as hot as possible and constantly stirred them, 45 minutes if you were sane about it" but definitely not about five minutes), according to Gizmodo. Or on whether MSG can kill you. (We're pretty sure it can't, at least we hope not).

"The featured snippets feature is an automatic and algorithmic match to the search query, and the content comes from third-party sites," Google said in an emailed statement. "We’re always working to improve our algorithms, and we welcome feedback on incorrect information."

Users can report incorrect information through a "Feedback" button at the bottom right of the featured snippet, Google said.

Author : Jessica Guynn

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