Mar 17, 2017
Tech giant Google, which by some accounts benefited from CIA-connected start-up capital, is adding a category labelled “upsetting-offensive” to its search results,according to the AP. Described by the company as an effort “to improve the quality of its search results,” this new feature could also create cyber-ghettos for social and political commentary from people who dissent against so-called mainstream opinions.
“With the change, content with racial slurs could now get flagged,” explains the AP report. “So could content that promotes hate or violence against a specific group of people based on gender, race or other criteria.”
The decision to flag supposedly inappropriate content would be made by review teams “comprised of contractors known as `quality raters’”; reviews of this kind are already underway to flag “questionable items such as pornography.” The new “upsetting-offensive” designation was added to its latest set of guidelines for quality raters. Among the examples cited to illustrate the new category is a search return on the terms “Holocaust history” that produces a page entitled “Top 10 reasons why the holocaust [sic] didn’t happen.”
Quality raters are instructed to “flag … all web results that contain upsetting or offensive content from the perspective of users in your locale, even if the result satisfies the user intent.” Being flagged by a “quality rater” as “offensive-upsetting” doesn’t mean that “the results won’t show up at all when someone searches for them,” but rather that it will be designated as “inappropriate.”