Google’s Multitask Unified Model (MUM) algorithm is now capable of identifying when multiple high-quality sources agree on the same fact.
This update to MUM is part of a more significant effort to improve information literacy across the web.
A Google-supported survey conducted by the Poynter Institute finds that 62% of respondents encounter false or misleading information every week.
To help people separate fact from fiction, Google is applying several changes to search results.
Here are the complete details about the updates Google announced today.
Improvements To Google’s MUM Algorithm
With improvements to the MUM algorithm, Google can understand when multiple sources on the web come to a consensus.
What does this mean for search results?
Google will now fact-check its featured snippets to see if other reputable sources agree with the information.
Pandu Nayak, Google’s Vice President of Search, explains how advancements to the MUM algorithm make this possible:
“Our systems can check snippet callouts (the word or words called out above the featured snippet in a larger font) against other high-quality sources on the web, to see if there’s a general consensus for that callout, even if sources use different words or concepts to describe the same thing. We’ve found that this consensus-based technique has meaningfully improved the quality and helpfulness of featured snippet callouts.”
Further, MUM can help Google more accurately determine when queries are better served without featured snippets.
As a result of this update, Google is reducing the triggering of featured snippets in these cases by 40%.
Helping Searchers Identify Trustworthy Information
Along with the update to MUM, Google is introducing additional features to help searchers find information they can trust.
Expanding ‘About This Result’
Google is expanding the ‘about this result’ feature with more context, such as:
- How widely a source is circulated
- Online reviews about the source or company
- Whether another entity owns the company
- When Google’s systems can’t find adequate information about a source
About this result is now available in the Google app and in more languages, including Portuguese (PT), French (FR), Italian (IT), German (DE), Dutch (NL), Spanish (ES), Japanese (JP), and Indonesian (ID).
Content Advisories About Information Gaps
A new advisory in search results will alert users when there’s not enough reliable information available for a particular query.
Google shares an example of a search related to a conspiracy theory triggering the new content advisory:
Featured Image: Andrii Yalanskyi/Shutterstock
Google Shares New Info About Vulnerabilities Found In Chrome
Google security researchers are sharing new information about vulnerabilities detected in Chrome, Firefox, and Windows.
In a blog post, Google and Threat Analysis Group (TAG) detail steps taken since discovering a commercial spyware operation with ties to Variston IT.
Based in Barcelona, Spain, Variston IT claims to provide custom security solutions. However, the company is connected to an exploitation framework called “Heliconia.”
Heliconia works in three ways:
- It exploits a Chrome renderer bug to run malware on a user’s operating system.
- It deploys a malicious PDF document containing an exploit for Windows Defender.
- It utilizes a set of Firefox exploits for Windows and Linux machines.
The Heliconia exploit was used as early as December 2018 with the release of Firefox 64.
New information released by Google reveals Heliconia was likely used in the wild as a zero-day exploit.
Heliconia poses no risk to users today, as Google says it cannot detect active exploitation. Google, Mozilla, and Microsoft fixed the bugs in early 2021 and 2022.
Although Heliconia is patched, commercial spyware is a growing problem, Google says:
“TAG’s research underscores that the commercial surveillance industry is thriving and has expanded significantly in recent years, creating risk for Internet users around the globe. Commercial spyware puts advanced surveillance capabilities in the hands of governments who use them to spy on journalists, human rights activists, political opposition and dissidents.”
To protect yourself against Heliconia and other exploits like it, it’s essential to keep your internet browsers and operating system up to date.
TAG’s research into Heliconia is available in Google’s new blog post, which Google is publishing to raise awareness about the threat of commercial spyware.
Featured Image: tomfallen/Shutterstock