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Google’s featured snippets are worse than fake news

Google’s featured snippets are worse than fake news
Peter Shulman, an associate history professor at Case Western Reserve University in Ohio, was lecturing on the reemergence of the Ku Klux Klan in the 1920s when a student asked an odd question: Was President Warren Harding a member of the KKK? Shulman was taken aback. He confessed that he was not aware of that allegation, but that Harding had been in favor of anti-lynching legislation, so it seemed unlikely. But then a second student pulled out his phone and announced that yes, Harding had been a Klan member, and so had four other presidents. It was right there on Google, clearly emphasized inside a box at the top of the page: For most of its history, Google did not answer questions. Type in the name of a person and you’ll get a box with a photo and biographical data. Unfortunately, not all of these answers are actually true. Back to Shulman and his students. “I understand what Google is trying to do, and it’s work that perhaps requires algorithmic aid,” Shulman said in an email.

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