Feb 28, 2018

Google updates search to better answer ambiguous questions

Photo: Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Google is launching a new feature, called multi-faceted featured snippets, that will provide users with multiple answers to nuanced questions. For example, if a user asks about “ears popping on a plane,” they could be looking for the cause or for remedies.

Why it matters: The new rollout represents a significant update to a years-long progress of refining search results to show users the most accurate answers in relation to the intent of what they are asking.

Google
  • Google's ultimate goal is to use consensus to inform answers to search queries on the web. The hope is that this will ultimately elevate high quality sources of information.
  • The update could one potentially help combat fake news search results, because the feature aims to provide more comprehensive set of perspectives
  • The update is a part of an ongoing effort to refine search results to provide users with the most accurate answers possible.

"Overall we believe this direction allows google provide more comprehensive overview for an area," says Emily Moxley, director of product management for this feature. "We're not trying to provide every possible opinion, but we're trying to focus on providing more authoritative voices."

What's next? Google plans to expand coverage to more queries as it improves machine learning around the product, including multi-opinion queries, such as, "Is milk good for you?"

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Minnesota activates National Guard amid fallout from George Floyd death

A portrait of George Floyd hangs on a street light pole in Minneapolis. Photo: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

George Floyd, 46, moved to Minnesota to improve his life and become his "best self," but instead, he is dead because of Minneapolis police.

The latest: Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz declared a state of emergency and activated the state's National Guard in response to violent clashes over the past two days between police and protesters in the Twin Cities.

Trump signs executive order targeting protections for social media platforms

President Trump signed an executive order on Thursday designed to limit the legal protections that shield social media companies from liability for the content users post on their platforms.

What they're saying: "Currently, social media giants like Twitter receive an unprecedented liability shield based on the theory that they are a neutral platform, which they are not," Trump said in the Oval Office. "We are fed up with it. It is unfair, and it's been very unfair."