Shortly after the news regarding the massive national tragedy in Texas, those who googled the Texas shooter’s name or Sutherland Springs found the web flooded with conspiracy theories which could lead many to conclude that Google spread misinformation once again. After googling one of the two keywords mentioned above, tweets from Info Wars editor-at-large Paul Joseph Watson and far-right Twitter account Stock Monster USA would appear on the search page, Gizmondo reports.
The Stock Monster tweet that appeared in the search results said, “Sutherland Springs, Texas Killer Devin Patrick Kelley is being said to be a radical Alt-Left Antifa member. – Lots of Facebook posts.”
The tweet also included images of the shooter and a rifle. However, there were no links to any sources for the tweet.
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Since the shooting happened, various news publications have disproven some of the details that have been spread online, which also includes false information about the murderer’s motives and military history.
Google gave this official statement regarding the matter:
“The search results appearing from Twitter, which surface based on our ranking algorithms, are changing second by second and represent a dynamic conversation that is going on in near real-time. For the queries in question, they are not the first results we show on the page. Instead, they appear after news sources, including our Top Stories carousel which we have been constantly updating. We’ll continue to look at ways to improve how we rank tweets that appear in search.”
According to Gizmondo, Danny Sullivan, Google’s public liaison for search, said that his employer is working on the Twitter module, making sure that it is not spreading false information.
“On the one hand you might say, it would be great if we could show whatever Twitter’s doing and it’s not our fault, but that’s not what’s happening nor is that sort of something we want to reach for,” he said. “The concern here is there is something on our search results page that needs to be improved. We want to improve it. … We weren’t happy that those tweets that people were pointing out to us were showing up that way. … For whatever reason, those are getting there. It wasn’t by intent, it wasn’t by design and it wasn’t something we’re striving to keep.”
The misleading tweets were also followed by one from Denver news anchor Cheryl Preheim. While Stock Monster’s account is suspended at the moment, Watson’s account is still active.
As you may remember, after the shooting in Las Vegas last month, Google spread misinformation coming from 4Chan. At the time, Google issued a statement blaming its algorithm for the way false information was spread.