When Google’s ‘top stories’ come out on Twitter, they often are a winner…
Posted On May 26, 2021
AUSTRALIA’S biggest social media site, Google, has been hit by a surge in spam, including bot accounts and fake accounts, following a rise in searches for keywords, including “Top stories”.
The issue came to light on Tuesday when users on Twitter noticed a spike in searches relating to a phrase that appeared to be a direct quote from an interview with Google chief executive Larry Page.
Google’s search engine has become a major destination for consumers looking for news and information and it has also been targeted by bots and other online content providers that post misleading or false information.
Google is a pioneer in the world of search, which it hopes will become the next big thing in the search engine wars.
But many believe that the rise in spam from Google, and the subsequent takedowns of Google’s accounts and products, are a sign of how much more attention is being paid to search now than before the global financial crisis.
“There is an overall shift towards being more focused on quality of content and content creators,” Andrew Yaffe, senior lecturer at the School of Communications and Technology at Melbourne University, told AFP.
“This has a big impact on the quality of information available.”
A spokesperson for Google said the company had received many complaints about spam on Google and that the spam filters had been activated as part of its efforts to improve its reputation.
“We’ve had more than 100 complaints from users about spam in the past few weeks, and we’re actively working on blocking bot accounts,” Google spokeswoman Andrea Sohn said.
“We’ve also removed more than 1 million fake accounts since the end of last year.”
She said Google had recently implemented a “bot-blocking” system which blocked some spam but she could not elaborate on how it worked.
Google does not comment on whether it has a formal strategy to combat spam.
But a spokeswoman for the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) said the commission had taken action against Google in response to several complaints.
“It is not unusual for Google to have a range of issues that it addresses on a regular basis, and it is important for us to keep our consumers informed,” ACCC spokeswoman Laura Stapleton told AFP, adding the commission was taking action to protect consumers.
“The complaints we have received suggest that the number of complaints has been rising steadily over the past year, which has led us to consider taking further action against this particular service provider,” she said.
Google declined to comment on the complaints, saying only that it would respond when it was ready.
“As a general rule, we don’t comment on specific individual cases,” the spokesperson said.
In its quarterly earnings report, Google said it had been hit hard by “a surge in search volume in the US” which has been accompanied by a rise of spam.
“While we are pleased with our progress, we are still concerned about spam, which we believe is being spread through the spam filter system,” Google said.
“Spam is a challenge to spam filters, which are designed to block potentially harmful content.”
Our spam filtering system has been targeted over the last few months with spam reports coming in from more than 40 different countries.
“Google’s spam filter software also has become more sophisticated, and spam filters are now able to block a wide range of different types of spam.”
The company also said it was investigating reports that the bots that post spam on its site are increasingly targeting Google’s advertising revenue.
“In light of these reports, we have begun removing certain spam accounts from our spam filter,” the spokeswoman said.