Google has released Project Owl and it is suddenly not such a hoot online for fake news anymore! Project Owl is fighting against problematic searches that plague our queries.

With more websites offering a jaded view of the world through people’s opinions rather than fact it is becoming increasingly important to stop these offensive topics which range from rumours to slurs and derogatory comments.

There have been three regimental changes involving Project Owl and all have been executed with military precision. With almost 6 billion searches per day, something had to be done. The changes are:

  • Improving autocomplete search suggestions
  • Improving “Featured Snippets” answers
  • More emphasis on authoritative content

So, what does this involve? I could get hyper-technical and talk about the algorithm behind it and how there are actual people, not just an algorithm, on this project… but, similar to Project Owl, this needs the human touch.

Improving autocomplete search suggestions

As you will be well aware, Google suggests topics to search for when you begin typing in the search box.

These are search suggestions that can be autocompleted and is meant to be faster than your average run-of-the-mill search.

It is a creation from other users’ searches but, of course, sometimes people search for things that others find offensive.

Thus, Google have created a clickable element called “Report Inappropriate Predictions” which can be found below the search box.

Clicking this brings up a list asking you to select of several categories including “hateful”, “sexually explicit” and “violent”.

Google hopes that with this new system in place, searches will improve, but don’t expect the search term you have reported to disappear overnight as it could take a few days or so.

Improving “Featured Snippets” answers

Fake news was a plague during 2016.

The boxes that appear at the top of search results, giving you an instant answer – they are called a ‘featured snippet’ (if you didn’t know).

These featured snippets can be used with Google Assistant on an Android as well as Google Home, and in the past they have caused some pretty offensive stuff to be said (and something offensive is never going to sound good coming through the voice activated speaker in your home, is it?).

Google plans to resolve this by once again implementing a form (a better form than the previous one that existed) which will offer new options, such as “this is helpful”, “this is hateful, racist, or offensive”, and “this is vulgar and sexually explicit”.

Once again though, this does not mean a quick removal, but at least you can register your feedback through the Google Home Device as well.

More emphasis on authoritative content

This one is relatively simple to explain; Google is once again improving its search quality, showing authoritative content and improving its results through changing its algorithm. Hopefully it works!

This could all change further but for now, let’s hope Project Owl is a truly successful mission with minimal casualties.