Google accused of updating search results and algorithm to favor "AI-generated crap"

Alfonso Maruccia

Posts: 750   +259
A hot potato: Google releases new updates for its search algorithms all the time. One of those latest "tweaks" has, however, made publishers and site owners worry more about AI, with low quality generated content apparently ranking better than original text written by humans in many instances.

Google recently released a new improvement for its ubiquitous web search service as a "helpful content update," which is designed to improve the service classifier. As explained on their Search Central blog, the new helpful content system generates a signal used by Google's automated ranking systems to better ensure search queries are served with "helpful content created for people."

The site-wide signal automatically identifies content that seems to have little value, low-added value, or is otherwise not particularly helpful to people. The signal is then considered among many others for use in Google search ranking algorithms.

According to a discussion on a webmaster's forum, Google's latest tweak to search is promoting "AI-generated crap" in results against long-form, well-written and researched content. Some site owners say they have experienced a sudden, substantial drop in readership and traffic after the update, while posts that were "very obviously" generated by AI were outranking human-made content.

Google acknowledged that the latest update could affect website rankings, but said it did nothing to favor AI-generated text over human-made content. The helpful ranking system was designed to show more content in search results that's created to help or inform people, a Google spokesman said, while penalizing content "created solely to rank better on Google Search" at the same time.

Before the update, Google's "helpful content" documentation was referring to content "written by people, for people." Now, the page simply says helpful content "created for people." Google previously said that its ranking algorithms are no longer blocking AI content from appearing in SERP results, as it's essentially impossible to reliably detect the difference between AI and human-made text.

Google's ranking system is now letting AI-generated text get through on search results, as long as it seems to pass the company's own internal quality tests. Critics say that machine learning algorithms employed by AI services were trained on huge amounts of content scraped from the public web, so those services are essentially serving users an abridged version of what's already available out there – and Google isn't punishing this type of behavior at all.

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Just one more reason I refuse to use Google in every instance I can. Still trying to find a good free alternative to Gmail ... all recommendations are welcome!
I can't add much to these posts, but like UncleAl, I avoid google as if it were ebloa, and google search isn't the only search engine that has gotten worse and worse over the years.

If google search is favoring AI, it's no surprise because people, in general supposedly favor Authoritative sounding answers even if they are crap - as we learned from the TechSpot article on whether AI correctly answers programming questions or not.

IMO, AI, for general consumer use, is nothing more than a glorified search engine especially since it can give garbage answers. That anyone using it should verify its answers before they accept those answers is totally contrary to how a tool like that should reply and makes its usefulness extremely limited - IMO.

Personally, I think AI in the context of search engines is a waste of my time, and have blocked the AI elements on Bing with the Element Hiding Helper of uBlock Origin. Why? Because those elements to me are like porn popups since they try to grab your attention with text that mimics a conversation and end up being useless "eye candy."
Eh, I don't see why they would. Sounds more like a bad update to me (where AI sites are just gaming the system).

Incompetence is more believable here lol
I avoid Google and M$ at all costs. I value my privacy. I have my own domain and at onetime ran my own linux mail server till my ISP forced me to take it down. For 7 years I subscribed to a hosting service which are changing their model to use Google Spaces, I am grandfathered but will be forced out. They recently dropped encrypted mail services means every email is sent clears text. Protonmail is currently my choice since encryption is their mantra. At one time cheap was good and free better but not in today’s world. Privacy is of the utmost importance to me.