Google has developed special algorithms to “recognise that a bad event is taking place” following distorted information about mass shootings which are on the rise in the US, the search engine’s senior engineer Pandu Nayak told The Guardian.
He described mass shootings as a major challenge for Google to provide accurate results, recalling that over the past few years, “there’s been a tragic increase” in such murders.
“And it turns out that during these shootings, in the fog of events that are unfolding, a lot of misinformation can arise in various ways”, Nayak said.
He added that to address the problem, Google has mapped out new algorithms stipulating that “we should increase our notions of ‘authority’ [pages that comply with Google’s search quality evaluator guidelines] increase the weight of ‘authority’ in our ranking so that we surface high quality content rather than misinformation in this critical time here”.
Nayak’s interview comes amid a steady rise in mass shootings in the US, where at least 51 people were killed in ten such incidents in the first five months of 2019.
This year’s deadliest shooting occurred on 31 May, when 12 people died in a killing spree at a municipal building in Virginia Beach.
The past three years have seen a spate of other deadly mass shootings in the US, including the Las Vegas bloodbath in October 2017 when 58 were killed, the June 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting in which 49 club-goers were killed and the November 2017 Sutherland Springs church shooting, which claimed the lives of 26 people.