Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Google News Politics

Google Tells Army of 'Quality Raters' To Flag Holocaust Denial (theguardian.com) 429

Google is using a 10,000-strong army of independent contractors to flag "offensive or upsetting" content, in order to ensure that queries like "did the Holocaust happen" don't push users to misinformation, propaganda and hate speech. From a report on The Guardian: The review of search terms is being done by the company's "quality raters", a little-known corps of worldwide contractors that Google uses to assess the quality of its systems. The raters are given searches based on real queries to conduct, and are asked to score the results on whether they meet the needs of users. These contractors, introduced to the company's review process in 2013, work from a huge manual describing every potential problem they could find with a given search query: whether or not it meets the user's expectations, whether the result offered is low or high quality, and whether it's spam, porn or illegal. In a new update to the rating system, rolled out on Tuesday, Google introduced another flag raters could use: the "upsetting-offensive" mark.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Google Tells Army of 'Quality Raters' To Flag Holocaust Denial

Comments Filter:
  • by sinij ( 911942 ) on Wednesday March 15, 2017 @01:26PM (#54044583)
    I am concerned that Google is attempting to act as a gatekeeper and arbiter of truth. While holocaust denial is certainly appalling, what else are they going to censor? What if China decides that Tiananmen Square is offensive?
    • The slope is slippery! WAKE UP SHEEPLE!

      • It's Google's search engine. Go create your own pro-Holocaust Denial search engine if you think it's so important.

    • Something about the camel's nose under the tent comes to mind...
    • by jellomizer ( 103300 ) on Wednesday March 15, 2017 @01:46PM (#54044753)

      As I see it we are in a no win scenario.
      On the Web, Lies, Misinformation, Conspiracy theories, and Passionate Hyperbole carry the same weight as solid truth. Often when something is true, it is often sited a small number of times, while the Anti-truth messages need to broadcasted over and over again so to be ingrained.

      While I don't like the idea that there is a small number of people judging what is true and not for the public to see, however as a culture we had abused our free speech rights creating a situation where checks and balances need to be put in.

    • ...You're so, so, so very late to the party. Google is only allowed to operate in China if it plays by the rules. There's quite a lot of history behind this [theatlantic.com]. Outside of China, Google's moral compass is largely guided by its founders, including Sergey Brin, who grew up in the USSR and has been an outspoken opponent of censorship [wikipedia.org]. Even Julian Assange feels [wikileaks.org] strongly that Google's political objectives align closely with those of the Obama administration, a point backed up in Brin's Wikipedia article, where he's

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      Where do you draw the line? Some people think the earth is flat, so when you google "globe" should you get a message informing you that actually the world is a disc? Some people think that gravity isn't what pulls everything towards the ground, it's magnetism.

      What is the standard for disputed facts that warrants presenting them along side the widely accepted facts?

      It works both ways and someone will criticise you not matter what you do.

    • I am concerned that Google is attempting to act as a gatekeeper and arbiter of truth. While holocaust denial is certainly appalling, what else are they going to censor? What if China decides that Tiananmen Square is offensive?

      From my understanding, they are not censoring the speech, they are just making sure that factual results occur at the top of the search list. I'm pretty sure that you'll be able to search on things like holocaust denial and still get to the pages. They just won't show up when you ask a direct question that requires a factual answer.

      Conflate it as much as you like with free speech, but there are proven facts that are under assault by outright lies (i.e. "alternative facts") to support pre-conceived opinion

    • Wasn't the very purpose of Google to look up the most useful, relevant stuff for your search string? If you enter "holocaust" into the search box, "Nope, didn't happen!" is not something I'd consider a useful or relevant search result.
    • by SeaFox ( 739806 )

      I am concerned that Google is attempting to act as a gatekeeper and arbiter of truth.

      The unwashed masses already blessed Google with that role when they stopped learning how to use the address bar on their browser and just started Googling everything (even addresses).

    • by Kiuas ( 1084567 )

      I am concerned that Google is attempting to act as a gatekeeper and arbiter of truth.

      Why shouldn't they? I mean, it is a search engine, the point of which is to provide users accurate information. If a user googles something, they expect to be getting facts, no?

      I mean, the algorithm already ranks pages by criteria. If you're arguing that Google shouldn't be doing this, you're essentially arguing they should allow people to push disinformation by manipulating search results by either Google bombing [wikipedia.org] or just d

  • by rmdingler ( 1955220 ) on Wednesday March 15, 2017 @01:31PM (#54044623) Journal
    It's about time one of these tech giants gave back to internet community and taught us all how to think.

    The line between hateful speech and offensive speech is so thin, it can correctly be identified as in the ear of the beholder.

    Even in the freest societies, the right not to be offended is not granted to any of us... that's how we keep the freedom.

    • Rather than offensive, the flag ought to be for 'lies, misrepresentations, and other deceptive content promoting prejudice'.

      I reserve the right to be offended by someone preaching that a group of individuals is inherently generally inferior based on specific superficial characteristics. You let that go unchallenged, and a percentage of individuals will see that as verification and have have their dangerous ignorance reinforced.

      When you allow a group to be successfully dehumanized by another group, hate cri

      • Define lies?

        go back in time and see whistleblowers:

        You: "Tuskegee Medical Facility is infecting black men with syphilis"
        Govt: "Prove your point in court room."

        You don't prove it therefore you lied and are punished. Hmmm. What a wonderful policy. (If you're a dictator or part of the powers that be.)
        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Baron_Yam ( 643147 )

          Lies promoting prejudice was what I said. Your example wouldn't qualify.

          Holocaust denial would, because for some weird reason racists believe it's OK to hate Jews if Hitler killed less than the generally quoted numbers. Historians can debate revising numbers if and as new evidence comes to light, and their findings aren't lies. People without access to primary sources claiming it didn't happen? Lies, in promotion of hatred.

          It's not really that difficult a distinction to draw unless you're defending the

          • OK.

            You're saying that in one case (the holocaust) that it is clear and irrefutable while in the other one it's a "current event" and there isn't any "clear and irrefutable" evidence. Good point.

            The problem is in what is clear and irrefutable. I think the path to an Orwellian future is clear and direct with this thinking.

            What defines hateful?

            The holocaust example is clear and direct and straightforward but many others are not - and where does it end? Why not say that those who defame religious l
          • Labeling something hate speech and trying to outlaw it is not an appropriate response to someone making claims. All it does is promote treating one group better than other groups which in turn breeds resentment.

            If someone is spouting off lies and we can say they are lying beyond all doubt, then surely there is no need to silence them for their claims will easily be proven false and Noone of average (or even below average) intelligence will believe them. If, however, one or more parties have been lying or gr

        • Define lies?

          "The Holocaust never happened," and "I'm not a puppet".

          • by GLMDesigns ( 2044134 ) on Wednesday March 15, 2017 @02:32PM (#54045101)
            One of those is clear cut. The other is conjecture on your part.

            This defines the problem.

            You shouldn't be afraid to say what you're thinking. Freedom of Thought, Speech and Press are THE fundamental principles of a free society.

            No freedom of speech and you're living under a tyranny. Tyrannies need not be repressive for the majority of the population. (Many people in China are doing quite well. It's still tyranny.)
    • Did you forget the sarcasm tag? Not sure what you're getting at here friend.

  • Other examples given in the manual for the flag are a query for "racism against blacks" returning a page for the white supremacist blog Daily Stormer

    That page is exactly the sort of result I would want if I were searching for racism. It's really strange that Google would think it's a bad result. Without it a naive searcher would believe racism is a thing of the past. Does Google seriously think upsetting realities should be hidden from view?

    Honestly this story smells a lot more like a trial balloon or fake

    • Honestly this story smells a lot more like a trial balloon or fake news than something that actually happened. If Google actually starts censoring unpleasant realities from results I'll be happy to eat my words and stop using Google. Until then color me very skeptical.

      I guess denial is not just a river in Egypt.

    • by Samantha Wright ( 1324923 ) on Wednesday March 15, 2017 @01:56PM (#54044835) Homepage Journal
      ...Why would a naive searcher believe racism is a thing of the past? Where are you seeing sources that claim this? You don't need to personally witness an atrocity to accept that it's happening. The first hit for that query actually returns Racism in the United States [wikipedia.org], which has an appreciable "Present" section [wikipedia.org]. Similarly, I'm pretty sure most people today take it at face value that the holocaust happened without personally having to see photographic evidence of it.
  • by Tempest_2084 ( 605915 ) on Wednesday March 15, 2017 @01:41PM (#54044713)
    I've always been curious about this. It's a dumb thing to do, and makes the person look foolish, but beyond that why is this actually a crime in some places? I mean I can pretend that Obama was never president, but that doesn't make it so and it makes me look really stupid, but they would never make that a crime (Note to Self: Check back in 10 years and see if they did indeed make this a crime). Just ignore the morons and let them play in their little pretend world.
    • It's kind of like the moon landing people. They are claiming that thousands of astronauts and scientists are liars which is pretty awful but most people just laugh at them.
    • by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Wednesday March 15, 2017 @01:54PM (#54044815) Journal

      The reason that it is a crime in Germany and Austria has to do with the historical de-Nazification of both countries after the War. It was part of the effort imposed by the Allies on these countries to make sure that Nazism never reared its ugly head again. It may seem silly in prosaic now (if you're willing to ignore the rise in anti-Semitism in Europe of late), but the anti-Nazi and anti-Holocaust Denial laws were deemed as necessary by the Soviets, British and Americans after they toppled the Third Reich.

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      It's popular with groups that like conspiracy theories, like neo-Nazis and the alt-right. If they are willing to believe Pizzagate, denial of things that happened long ago and which just so happen to suit your cause are an easy sell.

      Being the victims is at the core of their philosophy. Conspiracies, blame of things they didn't do, shadowy forces moving against them... It justifies all sort of behaviour, and gives them a warm feeling inside.

    • by Solandri ( 704621 ) on Wednesday March 15, 2017 @02:56PM (#54045317)
      It's picked up in the last couple decades as the people who survived the camps and the soldiers who liberated them have been dying of old age. I remember reading an article in the 1980s about a Holocaust survivor who was invited to speak about about her experience to a high school history class What she was saying was so inhumane, so unthinkable, that the students were having trouble believing her, even when she showed them her tattoo. The teacher, who happened to be a WWII vet, had to step in and say it absolutely was true - he'd been there when they liberated the camps and had seen it with his own eyes.

      Now imagine if the teacher hadn't been an eyewitness and the woman's testimony had had to stand on its own. With fewer first-hand accounts, it drops to a he said/she said state. And the deniers are working their hardest to speak as loudly as possible. I imagine in 50+ years we're going to have similar problems with 9/11 denial (denying that the attacks ever happened, not conspiracy theories about who dunnit).
      • by sconeu ( 64226 )

        This is why Eisenhower PERSONALLY visited the camps. So that he could say he was there and saw it with his own eyes.

    • I've always been curious about this. It's a dumb thing to do, and makes the person look foolish, but beyond that why is this actually a crime in some places? I mean I can pretend that Obama was never president, but that doesn't make it so and it makes me look really stupid, but they would never make that a crime (Note to Self: Check back in 10 years and see if they did indeed make this a crime). Just ignore the morons and let them play in their little pretend world.

      I'm not anti-European. I've been to, I think, 14 different European countries and I consider myself a lot more in favor of Europe than against it. But it seems to me that this is a crime because when a pendulum swings too far one way, the natural human reaction is to swing it too far the other way. In the US, free speech is protected by the Constitution. Courts consistently rule to protect it here. There's no such constitutional protection in Europe on speech. Keep in mind that even the US protection

  • Don't forget to also flag content to ensure queries like "is Google flagging holocaust denial" don't push users to conspiracy theories.
  • by argStyopa ( 232550 ) on Wednesday March 15, 2017 @02:20PM (#54045001) Journal

    We should have a whole branch of government that 'fact checks' things.

    We could call it the Ministry of Truth.

    Then we could all be safer and happier, knowing the Ministry of Truth is making sure the news says what it should, right?

    • Fact checking is not so hard, if done in a transparent and reproducible way. If anyone can operate a fact checking group, and anyone can quickly obtain and understand our standards then there is not really a problem. I should be able to review the input data, and apply the same standards and get the same results. At least with in a statistical range.

      The real terrifying abuse occurs when you have organizations that operate exclusively and with opaque standards. No paper trail, no choice if you use it or not,

  • Maybe we think the user *needs* to find the truth, but maybe they *want* to find an article that makes them feel good about their hatred. Isn't Google supposed to help them find what they want? Of course, some kid could just as easily be typing that because they really don't know and want to understand what the deal is.

  • back in Nov of last year...

Hackers of the world, unite!

Working...