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California professor warns of social media and extremism following chaos at US Capitol

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The professor testified before congress in 2019, warning that fragmented echo chambers of the internet have for decades fueled white supremacy and other extremism.

Twitter removed three of President Donald Trump’s tweets on Wednesday for violating its terms. The social media company also threatened to permanently suspend the President from the platform.

Facebook and its subsidiary, Instagram, also announced 24-hour suspensions against the President. But experts say this will not silence or undo extremist rhetoric online.

Social media companies faced fresh calls to remove President Donald Trump from their platforms after pro-Trump extremists stormed Capitol Hill on Wednesday.

“The suspension of the President’s accounts today is kind of closing the door after the horses came out of the barn. But you know what, better late than never,” said Professor Brian Levin.

Levin, director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at Cal State San Bernardino, testified before Congress in 2019, warning that fragmented echo chambers of the internet have for decades fueled white supremacy and other extremist ideology.

“That toxic mold is taken a little bit already. It’s hard to put a tarp over and eliminate it,” Levin said.

“Social media is a big part of how he became president in the first place – how he has communicated, how he’s governed,” Director of the Center for Inclusive Democracy at USC, Mindy Romero, said.

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Romero said recent efforts by social media companies to clearly label misinformation have been somewhat helpful, but it isn’t going to stop Trump’s influence over supporters who migrate to alternative social media platforms.

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“Now that people have been amped up, they’re ready to leave that stadium and play their game on a smaller field, but more intensely,” Levin said.

Levin warns: law enforcement, state capitols, elected officials at federal, state, and local levels must all prepare for a new era of emboldened extremists willing to use organized violence.

Continue the conversation with Van on Facebook.

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Google December Product Reviews Update Affects More Than English Language Sites? via @sejournal, @martinibuster

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Google’s Product Reviews update was announced to be rolling out to the English language. No mention was made as to if or when it would roll out to other languages. Mueller answered a question as to whether it is rolling out to other languages.

Google December 2021 Product Reviews Update

On December 1, 2021, Google announced on Twitter that a Product Review update would be rolling out that would focus on English language web pages.

The focus of the update was for improving the quality of reviews shown in Google search, specifically targeting review sites.

A Googler tweeted a description of the kinds of sites that would be targeted for demotion in the search rankings:

“Mainly relevant to sites that post articles reviewing products.

Think of sites like “best TVs under $200″.com.

Goal is to improve the quality and usefulness of reviews we show users.”

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Google also published a blog post with more guidance on the product review update that introduced two new best practices that Google’s algorithm would be looking for.

The first best practice was a requirement of evidence that a product was actually handled and reviewed.

The second best practice was to provide links to more than one place that a user could purchase the product.

The Twitter announcement stated that it was rolling out to English language websites. The blog post did not mention what languages it was rolling out to nor did the blog post specify that the product review update was limited to the English language.

Google’s Mueller Thinking About Product Reviews Update

Screenshot of Google's John Mueller trying to recall if December Product Review Update affects more than the English language

Screenshot of Google's John Mueller trying to recall if December Product Review Update affects more than the English language

Product Review Update Targets More Languages?

The person asking the question was rightly under the impression that the product review update only affected English language search results.

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But he asserted that he was seeing search volatility in the German language that appears to be related to Google’s December 2021 Product Review Update.

This is his question:

“I was seeing some movements in German search as well.

So I was wondering if there could also be an effect on websites in other languages by this product reviews update… because we had lots of movement and volatility in the last weeks.

…My question is, is it possible that the product reviews update affects other sites as well?”

John Mueller answered:

“I don’t know… like other languages?

My assumption was this was global and and across all languages.

But I don’t know what we announced in the blog post specifically.

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But usually we try to push the engineering team to make a decision on that so that we can document it properly in the blog post.

I don’t know if that happened with the product reviews update. I don’t recall the complete blog post.

But it’s… from my point of view it seems like something that we could be doing in multiple languages and wouldn’t be tied to English.

And even if it were English initially, it feels like something that is relevant across the board, and we should try to find ways to roll that out to other languages over time as well.

So I’m not particularly surprised that you see changes in Germany.

But I also don’t know what we actually announced with regards to the locations and languages that are involved.”

Does Product Reviews Update Affect More Languages?

While the tweeted announcement specified that the product reviews update was limited to the English language the official blog post did not mention any such limitations.

Google’s John Mueller offered his opinion that the product reviews update is something that Google could do in multiple languages.

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One must wonder if the tweet was meant to communicate that the update was rolling out first in English and subsequently to other languages.

It’s unclear if the product reviews update was rolled out globally to more languages. Hopefully Google will clarify this soon.

Citations

Google Blog Post About Product Reviews Update

Product reviews update and your site

Google’s New Product Reviews Guidelines

Write high quality product reviews

John Mueller Discusses If Product Reviews Update Is Global

Watch Mueller answer the question at the 14:00 Minute Mark

[embedded content]

Searchenginejournal.com

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