Evgeny Morozov, a visiting scholar at Stanford University, argues in this article on Slate magazine that it should be Google's responsibility to provide a quality control mechanism to help stop the spread of 9/11 denialism, anti-vaccine activism, and other fringe beliefs.
The second -- and not necessarily mutually exclusive -- option is to nudge search engines to take more responsibility for their index and exercise a heavier curatorial control in presenting search results for issues like "global warming" or "vaccination." Google already has a list of search queries that send most traffic to sites that trade in pseudoscience and conspiracy theories; why not treat them differently than normal queries? Thus, whenever users are presented with search results that are likely to send them to sites run by pseudoscientists or conspiracy theorists, Google may simply display a huge red banner asking users to exercise caution and check a previously generated list of authoritative resources before making up their minds.
Fortune's Dan Mitchell, however, thinks that asking search engines to "flag" sites that promote nutty conspiracy theories is a pretty nutty idea in itself. His counter-argument is pretty compelling:
There is a lot of garbage and nonsense on the Internet. There will always be a lot of garbage and nonsense on the Internet. And, thanks to our understandable wish to clean up garbage when we see it, there will always be misguided calls to do something about it.
And I particularly like this quote:
How is Google supposed to go about making such fine distinctions? And on a more basic level, since when is Google supposed to be in the business of deciding what is truth and what isn't? Even if it were technically possible, it's not Google's place to tell us that we shouldn't take seriously Jenny McCarthy and her anti-vaccine army, any more than it is Google's place to decide which sites are and are not engaged in digital piracy (again, it's not always clear).
Perhaps a simple checkmark, just like Twitter does, next to websites that are from credible institutions, like government and universities?
|Icons of the Web|
|25 People That Thought Lil' Kim Died|
|The Propaganda of the 21st Century: Fake Social Media Identities to Spread Pro-American Propaganda|
|Bot Purchases Random Objects on the Darknet|
|The Secretclub: A quirky and fun way to meet new people on social networking sites|
|CaptchaTweet: Write Tweets in Captcha Form|
|“A short cut through spacetime allowing for travel over cosmic scale distances in a short period.”|
|“If you fell asleep in 1945 and woke up in 2018 you would not recognize the world around you.”|
|Time Lapse of Planet Earth as Seen from the Space Station|
|The (Very Scary) People of Public Transit|
|Recycled Vacuum Lamps|
|“Reliably bottling up miniature stars, inside complex machines on Earth, demands otherworldly amounts of patience.”|
|Walking Car Concept|
|NSFW: Norwegian Public Television Has Nudity, Masturbation and Orgasms|
|Fake Name Generator|
|Darth Vader Surfing|
|How to Avoid Jury Duty|