On This Episode…
Most used search engine is not entirely showing the best answers in their top results, could this be the source of fake news being rampant, and is there any relation to the Russians?
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Below is a rush transcript of this segment, it might contain errors.

Airing date: 05/02/2017

Google Search Results Ties to the Russians


Craig Peterson: This one may have set a record for me. I have never had so many people ask for copies. Here it is. This is me talking with Jim Polito about a couple of things, primarily about what’s happening with so-called fake news? What Google is doing extracting stuff from our websites? Not paying us. How does this into the Russians? All of that right here. Stick around. Here it goes.

Jim Polito: He is the man with all of the answers. I’m talking about our friend from the Great White North, our Tech Talk guru, Craig Peterson. Good morning sir.

Craig: Hey good morning. Hey how’s it going this morning?

Jim: Good Craig. And you got me thinking this morning. Because I am the king of going to Google and asking Google a question. Danny does it. I do it. It’s part of my life. It’s part of show prep, research. I guess it’s like watching sausage being made. You may like the result but you don’t like how it’s done. And actually, maybe like some of the sausage, you shouldn’t trust the results, right?

Craig: Yeah. That’s kind of where it’s going. Have you noticed, when you do a search overall it seems to be about a third of the time. So you’ll type in something, for instance, dinosaurs for instance, which is really kind of an interesting example.

Jim: Yeah.

Craig: But Google will come up with a little box with the answer in it at the top of the page.

Jim: Yes. Yes. Yeah. I do question that. I’m like, really? How did you know?

Craig: They’re calling those featured snippets. Ok?

Jim: Yeah.

Craig: And there are all kinds of problems with them. They’re illegal in the European Union.

Jim: Really?

Craig: Yeah.

Jim: I don’t trust them. I said this earlier on the show today. Just because Europe does it doesn’t make it right. So they don’t allow that.

Craig: They don’t. And it’s interesting why too. So first of all, let’s talk about the radio station. Right now I have up WTAG News Radio here at http://iHeart.com.

Jim: Yeah. Oh great.

Craig: And on that page there’s the latest news, right? It’s got a thing about fasting provides weight loss. Angie’s List merging with Home Advisor. Ivanka Trump transitions to the White House. Right? It’s got news on there.

Jim: Ok.

Craig: So what Google does is it goes out. It crawls, of course, its website. It grabs all of the pages from all these websites all over the place and news-y pages gets crawled more frequently. And then it has programs in it that tries to decide what’s the good news is. So for instance, right now, on the air is the Jim Polito show. And then if you click on the Jim Polito show over there on http://iHeart.com, it comes up with a little page and it’s got some of your background. It’s got interesting, you know, the fact you’ve been a dominant figure. Massachusetts Media since 2000. Also on that page are some ads.

Jim: Really?

Craig: They’re a bunch of ads, in fact, on that page.

Jim: This is interesting. So people who would look me up, what are they interested in buying?

Craig: Yeah. Well, as it turns out, iHeart thinks that they’re interested in kids drinking and driving. A whole bunch of different things.

Jim: Well, we just did, we’ve done some material. I’ve podcasted some of that material on drinking and driving. I had the president of MAD on, ok?

Craig: Right. Right. And then there’s another site that’s advertising about a chain-smoking two-year-old and Jennifer Hudson isn’t casting of being in Hollywood anymore, etc. etc. So, how does the site make money?

Jim: Yeah.

Craig: Through advertising, right?

Jim: Yup. Of course.

Craig: That’s just how it is.

Jim: Because it’s free. It’s the same way we make money here in radio. We’re going to go to a break at 8:50 and we’re going to pay some bills.

Craig: Right. Exactly. So, let’s talk now about Google search results. Let’s go back to that. If you’re doing a Google search for Jim Polito.

Jim: Yeah.

Craig: And maybe you add to that Massachusetts and media, etc. Google could come up with one of their little boxes here. This featured snippet, also known as a rich answer. And what it would do is it would grab. And what it does is it grabs what it considers to be the most brief, most accurate answer it could find. Now obviously, it doesn’t know how accurate it is. So frequently these thing aren’t accurate, ok? But let’s talk about the first problem.

Jim: Yeah.

Craig: Jim Polito, you wrote this. Someone wrote this here for your page on http://iHeart.com.

Jim: Ok.

Craig: If a snippet shows up in Google search results that has been pulled off of this webpage, how much ad revenue can you possibly receive?

Jim: Oh, you can’t receive any.

Craig: Not a dime.

Jim: Right. Because they’re not going to my page to see it. They’re getting the information without going to my page and that’s copyrighted material.

Craig: All of these work that you put in is now to now end, right? All of the advertisers that are paying to be on your page, their ads aren’t going to be seen.

Jim: Like MAD. Ok, I get it. So they’re not going to see those ads.

Craig: So no. When you have those snippets, the problem is, no one that took the time to create that answer gets paid. Nobody.

Jim: No.

Craig: Except for Google. Ok? Because Google still has ads on that page.

Jim: Yeah. They’re still going to get paid.

Craig: Google is still going to get paid if you click on one of the ads. Now Google does have at the bottom of that little snippet box. They do have a little link that you can go back to the original page and read the whole thing. So that’s problem number one. It’s called, not just a deep link, which Google has been criticized for for years. So in other words, you look up Jim Polito and there’s answers there. And one of the top ones is http://iHeart.com, Jim Polito’s home page. And so you can click on that and it takes you right to the home page for Jim Polito, not for iHeart Radio. That’s called a deep link.

Jim: Ok.

Craig: And so instead of just sending that person to iHeart and say find it for yourself, good luck, they send you right to Jim Polito’s home page. So in some places in the world, a deep link is actually illegal because the publishers say hey, listen. Why should they go directly to this article in the New York Times when I want them to see my home page, see all the ads there?

Jim: Yes.

Craig. And then as they crawl through the site to try and find the article, good luck, they’re going to see more ads, right?

Jim: Yes.

Craig: So deep links are legal in some areas. But now snippets are becoming illegal. I think for very good reason, Google is standing on the shoulders of the people that have been creating the content with the featured snippets.

Jim: Right. They’re taking material. Now, here’s my question. Somebody is not sitting in a room and creating that snippet. Some program is doing it.

Craig: Right. That’s the big problem. In fact, that’s a big problem.

Jim: Yeah. How do I know that’s not, you know, gibberish? How do I know that’s not cracked? If it’s being by some kind of algorithm? You know, like Agent Smith from The Matrix?

Craig: Well, here’s an example of a result that was found. There was a study done on this recently showing about 30% of all of the results who have these snippets. So here’s one. Tell me what you think about this. This is an interesting one. A little controversial. And here’s the response to what really happened to dinosaurs. Dinosaurs are used more than almost anything else to indoctrinate children and adults in the ideas of millions of years of earth’s history. However, the bible gives us a framework for explaining dinosaurs, blah, blah. Ok?

Jim: Wow.

Craig: That’s a result that you could get from a Google snippet when you’re researching dinosaurs. So these are obviously creationists who are saying listen, the bible explains what happened.

Jim: Right, right. That they weren’t dinosaurs or you know, a few thousand years ago.

Craig: Yeah, exactly. But that’s not the only thing. For instance, if you ask Google why firetrucks were red, before Google went in and made the change, you’d get Monty Python quotes.

Jim: No.

Craig: If you ask, you know, here’s another one. This was doing some research on Barack Obama would come back as King of America. Ok? And some of these are due to what’s known as poisoning. And that’s been around for a long time. For a while. If you do a search for George Bush, stuff would come up. Or if you started typing grandmother, it would come up with, what was it, grandmaster or something rather. I can’t remember what it was. But poisoning where people are purposely putting stuff into webpages to mislead Google. So, do you watch Homeland at all? It’s a Showtime show.

Jim: I have watched it. I don’t watch it regularly. But I know the show.

Craig: Ok. Well this season, there’s this guy who’s in literally in basement. He has, maybe, a couple of hundred people down there. Each one of these people has multiple social media identities. And he’s trying to change America’s opinion about something.

Jim: Yeah. This has been a controversial season because the bad guy is not an Islamic terrorist. It’s one of our own.

Craig: Right. And it’s kind of an Alex Jones-y character.

Jim: Yes. Yes.

Craig: And so this guy is there and what he’s doing is what, frankly, what we’re talking about, the Russians hacking the elections. We’re not talking about them breaking into our election machines. We’re not talking about election fraud. We’re talking about this type of poisoning AKA fake news where you have people sitting there pretending to be real people.

Jim: Wow.

Craig: And those people are sharing stories, are planting stories. These algorithms, these programs pick it up thinking wow, this is trending.

Jim: Yeah.

Craig: This is something I need to share. So in the last week and a half, we have places like Twitter just blasting 300,000 accounts. Facebook’s doing the same thing. Over and over, they’re trying to find these accounts that some of them are bots, robots, but they’re controlled. They call them sock puppets in the show and they are, we can get reasons why they’re called that, but they take over bad guys, or maybe good guys take over machines all over the world. Use them to maintain fake identities to present to the media and to the search engines and to us as users to present to us a narrative that they want us to see. And that’s the type of hacking we’re going to see more and more as we go forward. So, not only is Google, in fact, stealing content and putting it on their pages, but they’re also now being they’re prone to the type of poisoning that we’ve called, we’ve taken the call hacking elections.

Jim: Wow. Right. Right. Exactly.

Craig: This is a huge deal that people just start considering.

Jim: I have to agree with the European Union for once.

Craig: This one study found that about 31% of 1.4 million searches that they researched had that little snippet sitting pretty right at the top. Not all those answers are wrong, but enough of them are. And you know how hard it is even clicking on the links that Google’s giving you to find the right answer. And people are just taking what Google puts at the top as the truth.

Jim: As gospel. As gospel truth. You’ve got some other great information like about passwords that I found fascinating but we’re out of time and folks, listen. You want to get this info about passwords. Everything you thought about passwords is wrong. So, Craig’s got this info. What I want you to do is text my name, Jim, to this number.

Craig: 855-385-5553.

Jim: Alright, text my name to that number. Standard data and text rates apply. And you’ll get all of this information plus some other stuff from Craig. He doesn’t sell your number. He doesn’t pester you. He only sends you good stuff.  And he doesn’t do it frequently. Craig, one more time with the number.

Craig: It’s 855-385-5553.

Jim: Craig, this has been a great segment. Always appreciate your help. And we look forward to talking with you next week.

Craig: Thanks sir. Take care. Bye-bye.

Jim: You too. Bye-bye. Craig Peterson. I’m going to podcast that interview for you folks in case you want to hear it again. And that’s something that will be up very soon. You go to WTAG.com, WHYN.com, click on here. Click my name, and there’s all of my blogging and podcasts.

Craig: Wow, hey. I’m not sure if I have any breath after that. If you want more, of course, go to my website as well, http://CraigPeterson.com, and we’ll chat with you later. Bye-bye.

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