Google has announced that it is fixing flaws in its algorithm that allows search results to be spammed, while also planning to weaken the search-ability of websites referred to as “content farms.” Matt Cutts, head of Google’s anti-spam team, writes:
As “pure webspam” has decreased over time, attention has shifted instead to “content farms,” which are sites with shallow or low-quality content. In 2010, we launched two major algorithmic changes focused on low-quality sites. Nonetheless, we hear the feedback from the web loud and clear: people are asking for even stronger action on content farms and sites that consist primarily of spammy or low-quality content.
The only clear reference from Google about problems occurring from “content farms” in regards to spamming search results is from China: “Last year Google faced a rash of webspam on Chinese domains in our index. Some spammers were purchasing large amounts of cheap .cn domains and stuffing them with misspellings and porn phrases.” They claim this scheme led to “irrelevant” search results.
Yet, their goal seems to be to weaken what has been referred to as “news aggregating” websites as “one change that primarily affects sites that copy others’ content and sites with low levels of original content.” This clearly describes many sites that present alternative news. However, plenty of alternative news sites and blogs have original material which they freely share, in part or in full, purely to support one another in disseminating the truth. This is of key importance to spread information in the absence of government or foundation funding, as enjoyed by much of the mainstream media. It is also a counter to censorship, so that a free market of ideas can flourish where people can investigate facts for themselves, rather than have opinions dictated from a limited number of sources.