Google To Rank Websites On How Truthful They Are?

According to a story by Hal Hodson over at NewScientist a Google research team is hard at work trying to find ways to implement this idea into their search engine algorithm. Mr. Hodson’s story states:

A Google research team is adapting that model to measure the trustworthiness of a page, rather than its reputation across the web. Instead of counting incoming links, the system – which is not yet live – counts the number of incorrect facts within a page. “A source that has few false facts is considered to be trustworthy,” says the team ( The score they compute for each page is its Knowledge-Based Trust score.
The software works by tapping into the Knowledge Vault, the vast store of facts that Google has pulled off the internet. Facts the web unanimously agrees on are considered a reasonable proxy for truth. Web pages that contain contradictory information are bumped down the rankings.

I have some serious reservations about what Google is planning to do. The problem is going to be determining what is truthful and what isn’t. The truth isn’t always black and white. For instance, I might print that my blog is the best business blog in the world. In my eyes that may be a truthful statement. But, is Google going to decide that I am wrong and penalize my blog for being untruthful? As you can see, the concept of truthfulness is fraught with all sorts of problems.

Google has risen to the top of the search engine world by giving users what they want and using innovation to do that. Google tries to rank websites on their apparent popularity by measuring the number and quality of links pointing to that website. They have done quite well with this model, making tweaks along the way but always relying upon backlinks to be the key determining factor to rank websites.

Using a truth serum approach, I can envision where Google could use their algorithm to punish websites that disagree with their points of view and reward sites that agree with their, political, scientific and moral views. What if I believe, and post, that man-caused global warming (climate change for the reborn crowd) is just a big scam perpetrated on the World. The honest scientific evidence supports my view in the totality. But, Google may want to take the side of a number of scientists who rely on government funding for their global warming research and the Obama Administration who see global warming as a way to increase taxes and promote their morality on energy policy. That would probably give my website a huge penalty and send my site and opinions into the cellar of the Google Search Engine results (SERPS).

Expand this train of thought to other areas such as politics, government watchdogs, the news, etc. Google could use their truth test to push an agenda they wish to promote and no one would be the wiser. After all, search algorithms are not made public but are closely guarded secrets. It would be impossible to show that an agenda is being pushed or that dissenting views are being suppressed. It could be used as a subtle way to influence voters and public policy covertly.

It has been widely reported that Google used to have a motto that read, “Do No Harm.” In recent years they have denied such a motto even existed. We can all be concerned because it has been shown repeatedly that “Power Corrupts.” And, we all know how powerful Google has become.

Google Wants To Rank Websites On Truthfulness, Not BackLinks

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