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Please please me, Google Search

Google to change search rankings

Google is setting up a system where cyber bullies or sore losers may be able to downgrade you from search results and all it takes is the filing of complaints

August 12, 2012 11:18 by

In a rather apologetic move aimed to please the content creators and entertainment giants of Hollywood, Google has decided to speed up progress of its ‘copyright protection’ plan and begin degrading websites that have received numerous accusations of promoting pirated content. While this move has drawn smiles from members of the music publishing industry, content creators and recording artists; other Internet advocates are less than optimistic.

In its search engine results, websites that carry legitimate content will be ranked higher than those accused of having pirated content. The real question is, how will the search engine giant be able to draw the line between genuine complaints and acts of cyber-bullying?

Despite Google’s announcement that the accused websites will not be ‘completely’ erased from search engine results “unless we receive a valid copyright removal notice from the rights owner”, it is still drawing massive amounts of criticism in the light that this new system will turn into yet another platform of manipulation and abuse. Receiving lower search rankings and search engine presence is a nightmare for many companies and online portals all around the world, especially those that rely on organic searches from Google as one of their major sources of traffic.

Typically, the California based company ranks its search engine results according to a website’s popularity; ideally measured by its presence, number of clicks and searches. However, it will now use a revised formula to rank its search results as per valid copyright removal notices. Google’s senior vice president of engineering, Amit Singhal, has expressed his optimism on his blog for this soon-to-be implemented plan; saying that it will cater to the interests of content creators.

It’s hard to feel too sorry for websites that promote pirated content (despite the fact that we enjoy the content they share) but it’s all too easy to feel sympathy for legitimate content creators who, as Internet Advocacy Groups fear, will fall victim to the very system that was created to protect them. As per a news report on CNET News, advocates that have spent their lives dedicated to helping site operators from being falsely accused of piracy are predicting that this move will have a widely felt butterfly effect.

Wendy Seltzer, founder of the Chilling Effects clearinghouse, says that this move stands as “a reminder that search is not merely an objective view of what is on the Internet but a particularized sorting of that information”.

However, the real damage will erupt when websites, particularly those innocent of copyright infringement or piracy, will fall victim to the gaping holes of the system because they remain unaware of how to challenge or negate falsely submitted reports of violation. Public Knowledge, a public interest group with an interest in copyright law says, “Google has set up a system that may be abused by bad faith actors who want to suppress their rivals and competitors”.

Is Google losing control of its own search engine or will they be able to enhance this ‘not so elaborative’ system to differentiate between sincere copyright infringements and empty accusations?

But aside from the ray of cynicism it continues to receive, the Internet giant’s plan has also received compliments for its validity; funnily enough from those that hope to be protected and promoted by the system. In spite of the many loopholes and raised eyebrows, Google must appear innovate by creating shields around those they find significant enough to protect or risk damaging its already ‘icy’ relationship that it’s been having with content creators.

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