Tuesday, June 25, 2019

“5 Ways to Build a Google Algorithm Update Resistant SEO Strategy - Search Engine Journal” plus 3 more

“5 Ways to Build a Google Algorithm Update Resistant SEO Strategy - Search Engine Journal” plus 3 more


5 Ways to Build a Google Algorithm Update Resistant SEO Strategy - Search Engine Journal

Posted: 21 Jun 2019 06:46 AM PDT

On June 3, Google pre-announced the launch of a "broad core algorithm update" to be released the following day.

The decision to pre-announce the update was presumably as much about Google's PR team stopping Gary Illyes from naming another update as it was to save SEO pros from freaking out.

CCN & the Algo Update Fallout

But freak out we did. Most notably, cryptocurrency news website, CCN reported that their organic visibility had dropped by 90% and that they were shutting down as a result.

While no one wants to see others losing their jobs, their "demands from Google" underestimate the complexities of Google's algorithms and completely misjudge how they operate as a business.

A three-month heads up on algorithm updates and what it might impact?

Direct communications to news sites that are about to experience substantial drops in organic visibility?

A global task force reviewing future algorithm updates?

Good luck making that happen!

It later emerged CCN's organic traffic wasn't struck by a random act of Google, but that the site wasn't without its issues.

Let's be clear if your business is that reliant on organic traffic, especially from just two pages, you're playing a dangerous game.

While CCN has since published a subsequent post to say that they are "rising from the dead", there are a number of more general points I want to make around the current state of search.

I also want to put forward several steps that SEO pros can take to become more resistant to algorithm updates.

Google Is Monopolizing the Delivery of the Web

While some of the recent condemnations of Google and how they operate are ill-thought out, they do have an unhealthy monopoly in controlling the delivery of the web, and it's only growing.

Let's look at some examples from recent times:

  • Publishers have been more or less forced to adopt AMP to have any organic visibility, which is basically a Google framework.
  • Google scrapes and publishes content from other websites in its search results, taking away clicks in the process.
  • A growing proportion of informational queries are now answered in the SERPs.
  • Google can override user-specified canonical tags and index another version of the page.
  • Google rewrites page titles and meta descriptions to better match user intent.
  • Local businesses, job postings, hotels, flights are all now handled by Google products.

None of the above will be news to most, but it's worth taking a step back to take in exactly how much control Google has over the delivery of our content.

Taking a purely objective view of these power plays, it makes sense to standardize the delivery of information through the lens of Google's material design. After all, who hasn't benefited from being served a handy featured snippet to answer a quick question?

Google has effectively taken the stance that, on the whole, websites can't be trusted to deliver well-structured, performant websites with reliable signals regarding indexing, internationalization, and the like.

Instead, Google tries to bypass these problems by standardizing a searcher's experience of the web and keeping you in their platform.

This is all well and good in terms of user experience, but from an SEO perspective, we're getting increasingly little back from a traffic source a lot of websites are terrifyingly dependent on.

The problem is that Google doesn't have any real competition (sorry Bing!) when it comes to search and that doesn't look at all likely to change in the foreseeable future.

For the time being, it's very much a case of Google says jump and we say how high.

How Can You Minimize the Impact of Algorithm Updates?

To save this post from becoming too bleak, I'd like to share some ways that websites can set themselves up to be more resistant to Google's algorithm updates and less dependent on organic traffic from Google.

1. 'Create Great Content'

Google's go-to recommendation following a core algorithm update can feel like a slap with a wet fish, but it isn't advice that should be overlooked. Maybe give that a go if you haven't already. Content is King™ and all that…

But seriously, as important as it is to keep on top of Google's algorithm updates and what they impact, we can get overly fixated on them as a community when focusing on executing on a long-term strategy should take precedence.

In the case of the June algorithm update, yes, we need to be aware that we can expect fluctuations in organic traffic. And yes, we should read authoritative analysis showing the common trends driven by the update.

However, these insights should be factored into a long-term search strategy rather than causing us to pivot and take a number of short-term actions to try and capitalize on new opportunities or claw back lost rankings.

The only way you're going to benefit from a core algorithm update is if you're investing in a well-reasoned long term approach to organic search which is committed to delivering performant websites that deliver quality content and valuable experiences to visitors.

2. Sound Long-Term Strategy, Over Short-Term Tactics

It's easy to preach about how SEO strategies should ideally look but what does that mean if you're facing the harsh realities of being hit by an algorithm update like CCN?

Providing your sites and business haven't been completely toppled by an algorithm update, these sites need to take a long hard look at:

  • How they approach search.
  • How they can execute on a strategy that has more longevity and carries less risk rather than blaming Google.

In the case of CCN, scaling the workforce of a site that is reliant on two pages to deliver the bulk of its organic traffic is irresponsible. Google didn't kill CCN, poor planning did.

It might be too late, but CCN should have been and should be planning a strategy to tackle the following issues (credit to Dan Shure for his insights):

  • How to reduce the proportion of organic traffic to its most popular pages focusing on the price of bitcoin.
  • How to reduce their dependence on organic traffic by building traffic from other sources.
  • Reviewing their approach to link building, syndication, and redirection.

This list might only be the tip of the iceberg but the point is that CCN has far bigger issues that they should have been addressing that likely contributed to the drop they saw following the latest core algorithm update.

Yes, Google should be held accountable and should be working to communicate more transparently with the search community, but that does not excuse the publisher's poor foundations on which they had built a business.

3. Be Selective in Who You Work With and For

Looking at things from the perspective of the individual, we need to be more selective about the websites that we chose to work on and the businesses we associate with.

When you come to seek new opportunities, whether that be in-house, agency side, contracting or if you're onboarding new clients you need to assess prospective businesses and their websites by asking questions such as:

  • How reliant is the website and business on one stream of revenue?
  • How volatile is the business' main source of revenue?
  • How open and flexible is the business to taking onboard and implementing new ideas, acknowledging and correcting missteps and shaping its strategy to a rapidly changing environment?
  • Does the business have a feasible long term vision and are their websites still likely to provide value in the foreseeable future?

We need to be more cognizant of the foundations and longevity of the businesses that we involve ourselves with and do our due diligence.

4. Nurture Returning Visitors & Build a Brand

Speaking from personal experience, I came to work on a site that had historically performed tremendously well in search in a highly competitive niche.

I was successful in building upon the site's existing success and significantly took their organic traffic to new heights, while also diversifying the site's revenue streams.

I was proud of what I'd achieved with optimizing and growing this site, but the problem was that this success was overwhelmingly based on visitors coming from organic search.

Despite the substantial levels of traffic to the site, visitors were only there because it ranked well.

Perhaps it was a failure of my relatively junior status at the time, but I couldn't convince the management to invest time and resource into nurturing returning visitors.

Lacking an understanding of the pace at which Google search evolves they were happy to count on good rankings as a given.

Years on and the site in question still performs well in search, but is (as far as I can tell) failing to capitalize on the phenomenal levels of organic traffic by building something bigger by way of a brand – or even an email list at the very least!

If I were presented with the opportunity to work on a similar site with a business of the same mindset today, I would like to think I would look elsewhere because they wouldn't pass the due diligence questions mentioned above.

5. Collaborate With Other Departments & Take a Broader Perspective

The future of SEO is only going to become further entrenched with other disciplines.

It is ever-more important that SEOs collaborate with and understand the challenges of the other marketing and business functions it is intertwined with.

SEO intersects with paid search, CRO, UX, PR, development and that's not even to mention the broader business impacts.

As such, search teams need to take a wider view of their place in an organization, build strong working relationships with other teams and collaborate with them to build healthier foundations for a business and reduce their dependence on organic traffic and its fluctuations.

One such example of where SEOs could take a broader perspective is with the newly released FAQ rich results:

The above example shows that implementing FAQ schema has seen organic clicks decline, which would typically be seen negatively from the perspective of an SEO.

However, this could be perceived to be a success by other teams as the answer to a problem is getting more visibility and their question is likely being answered faster without the need to click through to the website itself.

For some questions, this might be a better user experience because users can get a faster answer and it could also reduce the number of support queries coming through as the question (and related ones) are getting more visibility.

By taking a broader view of success and adjusting KPIs accordingly to work alongside other business functions we can build more successful websites and cohesive digital businesses that work towards a common goal.

Conclusion

This post is far from an exhaustive list of ways websites and businesses can improve their immunity to algorithm updates and become less dependent on organic traffic, but more of a contribution to an ongoing discussion.

While we need to hold Google accountable in what limited ways we can, we need to direct our efforts towards building digital businesses with long term planning in mind.

Businesses that aren't desperately reliant on the black box of a third party.

Easier said than done, but it's something we should strive for!

More Resources:

They turn to Facebook and YouTube to find a cure for cancer — and get sucked into a world of bogus medicine - The Washington Post

Posted: 25 Jun 2019 12:11 PM PDT


(Cameron Cottrill for The Washington Post)

Mari pressed kale leaves through the juicer, preparing the smoothie that she believed had saved her life.

"I'm a cancer-killer, girl," Mari told her niece, who stood next to her in the kitchen. The pair were filming themselves for a YouTube video.

Mari said she was in remission from a dangerous form of cancer, and the video was meant as a testimony to what she believed was the power of the "lemon ginger blast." In went some cucumber, some apple, some bok choy, a whole habanero pepper.

While she pressed, she preached.

"I'm telling you, it's anti-cancer," Mari said. "It'll kill your cancer cells."

The video, first uploaded in 2016, remains on YouTube, but there's an "important update" attached to the video's description. It was written by Liz, the niece, a year later.

Mari's cancer had returned, the note said, and she had died.

When Mari's cancer came back, Liz wrote, her aunt opted to do chemotherapy. Her smoothie recipe remains online, with 506,000 views and counting. "I will not take down her videos," wrote Liz, who declined to comment for this story, in the description of a follow-up video, "as they continue to help people."

I found Mari's videos without looking for them last fall, when a search for a smoothie recipe opened up an algorithmic tunnel to videos that claimed to know the secret to curing cancer. These tunnels, forged by Google searches and Facebook recommendations, connect relatively staid health and nutrition advice to fringe theories, false claims and miracle juices.

But the web of false, misleading and potentially dangerous cancer "cures" and conspiracy theories isn't just there for those who stumble into it accidentally. More often it ensnares people who are reeling from bad news and groping for answers.

"People with a new cancer diagnosis are often feeling vulnerable and scared," said Renee DiResta, a researcher who studies disinformation. The treatments for cancer, especially chemotherapy — which targets cancerous cells but can also kill or damage healthy ones — can come with significant, unpleasant side effects. Facing the horrors of such a diagnosis and treatment, some people start searching for information and community online.

What they find can be quite disturbing to medical professionals: home remedies that purport to cure diseases with baking soda, frankincense, silver particles.

Google and Facebook have promised to crack down on health misinformation in recent months, as links between anti-vaccine conspiracy theories and measles outbreaks in the United States become major news. But bogus health information cannot be eradicated from the Web with a shock of chlorine. Health conspiracy theories and false cures have polluted social media for years, abetted by companies who have been more focused on building out the plumbing than keeping the pipes clean of misinformation.

Internet companies have long argued that Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act gives them the autonomy to moderate their platforms for abusive and harmful content, while shielding them from legal liability over those moderation decisions — and what their users post. Increased attention on how tech companies moderate themselves have led to calls from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to weaken, or revoke, this immunity. Tech companies have warned that doing so would limit their ability to remove hateful content.

For now, tech companies respond to reports of harmful content on their own terms, and at their own pace. The result, in the case of health misinformation? A long period during which seekers, ushered by algorithms, found themselves immersed in wells of dubious advice and conspiracy thinking. They soaked in the wisdom they found there, and carried it into their own networks by the bucketful. In this way, the proliferation of bogus medical science in the Internet age resembles a public-health crisis: The harm can be hard to calculate, and remedies cannot undo the damage already done.

As recently as late April, searching "cure for cancer" in YouTube (turning on "incognito mode" so that my prior search history wouldn't skew the results) surfaced several troubling results: The sixth video, with more than 1.4 million views, claimed that baking soda could cure cancer. The eighth was an interview with self-described cancer expert Leonard Coldwell, in which Coldwell explains that every cancer can be cured in weeks with a special diet that "alkalizes" the body, a claim that has been debunked by scientists. The video has more than 7 million views. (In an emailed statement to The Washington Post, a spokeswoman for Coldwell identifying herself as "Danielle" claimed that Coldwell, who no longer treats patients, had the "Highest Cancer Patient Cure Rate in the world," and boasted that Coldwell remained popular despite being "the most blocked Cancer Patient Expert in the world.")

YouTube is trying to plug the holes that lead to videos like the Coldwell interview. When I ran the "cure for cancer" search again, in May, YouTube's search results were a completely different story. The baking soda and Coldwell videos are still online, but no longer appear among the top pages of results. Instead, most of the top results came from major cancer research centers.

I asked YouTube about the change, which occurred just before we reached out to the company for comment on this story. I was told YouTube has started to treat search results for different types of topics differently: When its algorithms decide a search query is related to news or information-gathering on a topic like cancer, they will attempt to populate the results with more authoritative sources. The company said it is working with experts on certain health-related topics to improve results.

Even as YouTube patches "cure for cancer," medical misinformation remains available and popular in other ways. People who are susceptible to cancer misinformation aren't just typing keywords into YouTube. They're also turning to fellow travelers who followed the same algorithmic tunnels to the same wells, where communities members who have never met in person swap folk remedies and discuss the untrustworthiness of cancer doctors and pharmaceutical companies.

It's tempting to think of medical misinformation as a technological problem in need of a technological solution, but that's only part of it. The social media age has made humans part of the infrastructure of the Internet. And when it comes to medical information, it's not just algorithms that direct online seekers who are trying to figure out how to cope with a bad diagnosis. It's also other people.

For those facing a battle with a terrifying illness, hopeful anecdotes can be powerful. Anecdotes can turn seekers into believers, who can turn other seekers into believers. And on Facebook, those anecdotes continue to attract large audiences.

Even as Facebook works to limit the reach of anti-vaccine chatter, other medical misinformation is thriving — including bogus cancer cures. The boundaries between false medical beliefs are permeable: If you believe baking soda can cure cancer, you might also believe that the measles vaccine causes autism. (It doesn't.) Behind each "alternative" theory of cures and causes lurks a deep suspicion of doctors, drug sellers and especially chemotherapy.

On Facebook, I easily found groups devoted to sharing "natural" cures for cancer, where people who have cancer diagnoses, or care for someone who does, asked other group members for ideas for how to cure it. "Cancer Cures & Natural Healing Research Group" has just under 100,000 members. I joined the closed group in February, identifying myself as a Washington Post journalist to the administrators.

The administrator for that group initially agreed to speak with me in private messages. But then I was blocked from the group and the administrator's personal Facebook page. (The administrator did not return a follow-up email seeking comment.)

Facebook's algorithms then began suggesting other groups I might like to join: "Alternative Cancer Treatments" (7,000 members), "Colloidal Silver Success Stories" (9,000 members) and "Natural healing + foods" (more than 100,000 members). I requested access to some of those groups, too, and several admitted me. People in the groups would ask one other for cancer-fighting advice. Some would be told to use baking soda or frankincense.

Rather than remove the groups, Facebook's strategy to limit health misinformation centers on making it harder to join them unknowingly. Facebook said in an emailed statement that it "will alert group members by showing Related Articles" for any post already deemed false by Facebook's third-party fact-checkers, for instance.

Facebook is in the process of experimenting with how to address health misinformation beyond vaccines. One possibility might be alerting users who are invited to join a group that it has circulated debunked hoaxes.

To this point, it's been up to users to steer their peers toward or away from bad health advice. In one Facebook group, in February, a parent asked for advice on how to cure a child's strep throat without antibiotics. The responses were split; some told the parent not to mess around and go to the doctors for antibiotics; others recommended colloidal silver and hydrogen peroxide. The National Capital Poison Center notes that even food-grade hydrogen peroxide "should never be taken internally" unless extremely diluted, and that its use as an alternative therapy is "not based on scientific evidence."


(Cameron Cottrill for The Washington Post)

The world of alternative medicine-seekers has its own celebrities. The names are like pass phrases. Post a question about natural cancer treatments in the right Facebook group, and you'll get the names of supposed success stories that the pharmaceutical industry doesn't want you to know about, and the instruction to "do your own research" into their stories.

"CHRIS BEAT CANCER! Look it up," one Facebook user advised on a discussion thread.

So I did. The first Google result, when I ran the search in mid-May, was Chris Wark's website, where Wark sells access to his method for $147. Below that, Google also suggested a few specific videos from Wark, promoting his "cancer fighting salad" and a lecture on how he beat cancer with "diet."

Joanna Tackett, a spokeswoman for Wark, said in an email that Wark is not a doctor and does not provide medical advice, and that he has given free access to the paid program to hundreds of thousands of people.

Misinformation experts worry about "data voids," created by the way information gets indexed online. If the only people discussing and looking up a particular term or phrase are those advocating a certain view, people searching that phrase would be shown information that supports that view.

"You can easily dominate search results for a term when you've created the term and only in-groups use it," DiResta said. As social media companies identify and crack down on one search term, she said, 20 more might be rising in interest to take its place.

A Google spokesman said the company has worked to improve the accuracy of results for general health-related queries, but for very specific searches, such as "Chris beat cancer," the system is designed to return "results from a diverse range of sources to help you form your own opinion — some of these provide information about the book, while others provide critiques."

Google users searching for cancer information more generally might end up being served ads that promote dubious treatments, even if those sources don't show up in the search results. In a search for "cure for cancer," in May under incognito mode, the first result was an ad: "Stage four cancer survivor | thanks to natural cancer cures." The ad promoted a cancer clinic in Mexico that appears to use unconventional treatments. Another Google spokesman said that ads promoting miracle cures are against the company's rules, and that "if we find ads that violate our policies we remove them." The ad was removed after I flagged it in an email.

For some searches, the results will be a tug-of-war between the believers and debunkers. Searching "Chris beat cancer" did not reveal a total data void. Google did show me two results challenging Wark's claims about beating cancer with a healthy diet — but only after links to his YouTube channel, his website, the salad video, the lecture and a link to Wark's book. (When I ran the search later, after asking Google about the results, the challenges appeared a bit more prominently.)

One of the challengers is David Gorski, a surgical oncologist at Wayne State University School of Medicine who runs a blog, called Science-Based Medicine, devoted to medical bunk.

Gorski dove down the cancer conspiracy theory tunnels a decade ago, armed with science and determined to stanch as much misinformation as he could. Back then, he said, "all there really was were websites, blogs and discussion boards that were privately maintained. Their reach was nowhere near what Facebook came to be."

Now, Gorski faces not only a more forceful tide of misinformation but also intense blowback from those who have responded to his work. Accusations of wrongdoing from holistic healing sites, and a wave of negative ratings on his Vitals.com profile, have tainted the results of Google searches for his name.

Gorski's debunking of Wark's story was simple. Wark, who says he had surgery for his Stage 3 colon cancer but refused chemotherapy after, had a 64 percent chance of surviving five years with surgery alone, Gorski said. To get that figure, the oncologist used a tool called Adjuvant Online, which helps doctors assess the risks and benefits of potential therapies designed to prevent the recurrence of cancer after it is treated. The database used clinical trial data from a wide range of studies.

"Attempts to discredit me because I had surgery give far too much weight to my personal story, and miss the larger message. . . . People have healed all types and stages of cancer holistically (against the odds)," Wark said in a statement. "As a patient advocate, I am highly critical of the cancer industry and pharmaceutical industry," he added, before saying that "I do not tell patients not to do the treatment."

Surgery was the recommended primary treatment for Wark's cancer, Gorski said. Chemotherapy is a secondary measure, meant to help prevent the cancer from coming back. Wark's decision to forgo the post-surgery chemo was a risk, but by then the odds were in his favor.

After I was kicked out of the "Cancer Cures and Natural Healing Research Group," I joined the similarly named "Natural Healing & Cancer Cures Research Group," a closed Facebook group with more than 40,000 members. (Again I identified myself as a journalist while joining the group.)

That's where I saw a post by Beth Anne Rakowski, who said her sister was sick with Stage 3 lung cancer.

"She and I both agree," Rakowski wrote, "NO chemo or radiation."

I called Rakowski to find out why.

Cancer has haunted Rakowski for much of her adult life. She wanted to be a nurse, but when her young son got cancer she dropped out of nursing school. When he died in 1992, at age 4, Rakowski felt like she had died with him. Grief became activism, and she started raising money for charities that helped pay for cancer research. Later, her brother-in-law and her father were diagnosed. They died, too.

Rakowski had health issues of her own, and on the advice of a friend she visited two naturopathic doctors. When their practices closed (Rakowski blames Big Pharma), she started seeking out remedies online. She found Facebook groups full of them.

"I used Facebook health groups just full-speed ahead," Rakowski told me in a March phone interview from her mother's home, where she is a full-time caretaker, "and I couldn't believe what resources were on there were. People, you know, to help other people because they've been there." The Facebook groups were Rakowski's lifeline.

She came to believe that chemotherapy, not cancer, had killed her son, father and brother-in-law. "Talk about parental guilt and remorse," Rakowski told me.

Now, every sick relative is a chance for redemption. She advised her sister against chemotherapy or radiation to treat her lung cancer. Rakowski wanted her to use "naturals" and "immunotherapy" instead. And so she turned to her lifeline: the other members of the Natural Healing & Cancer Cures Research Group.

"If you can please give me a list," she wrote in a post on the Facebook group, "in order of urgency and priority, of what you feel is imperative for nutrition, immune boosting, cancer killing, and whatever else you feel my sister needs."

The responses flooded in by the dozens.

Salt water baths. 4 times a day.

B17 vitamin. . .CBD Oil full spectrum.

Add Wheatgrass juice to your sister's diet.

Rakowski's sister trusted her doctors: She did chemotherapy. Then she got an infection in her lungs, according to Rakowski, and in March her doctors said it was time to enter hospice. But Rakowski still had hope. She said she convinced her sister to wait on hospice, and went to a health food store that evening and bought a small fortune's worth of essential oils.

She believed she could heal her sister's lungs with fenugreek, licorice root, peppermint oil and oregano oil. Once her sister's lungs were better, Rakowski believed, she could get to work curing her cancer.

In May, Rakowski wanted me to know that she believed her sister was a miracle. Once the infection had subsided, she texted to say the doctors had offered to start her sister on chemotherapy again. "My sister declined," she wrote, and decided to continue with "natural supplements and natural oils."

When Rakowski and I talked about health, it sometimes felt like we were talking about faith. The story she tells about her sister's illness is meant as a parable about how chemotherapy can kill. She saw me, and the readers of this article, as potential converts.

I told Rakowski that I believed the groups she depended on exploited people's desire for hope in the face of a bleak prognosis. When there are no options left, it's powerful to find a community that tells you otherwise, even if those options turns out to be ineffective or even harmful.

But each time I challenged her with a counterpoint, Rakowski waved it away. The government was covering up evidence that supported her views, she told me. The treatments she found on Facebook worked for her, she believed, and that was all the proof she needed.

As a surgical oncologist, Gorski sees the effect that medical misinformation can have on the body. A couple of times a year, he says, he'll treat "patients with neglected cancers, who try to treat their cancers naturally" before turning to medicine. The tumors have become "nasty ulcerating masses." Even for patients with terminal diagnoses, traditional medicine can offer palliative care that can manage the pain and may be covered by health insurance.

After years of allowing health misinformation to spread, social media companies are beginning to treat the problem the best they can. They didn't create cancer conspiracy theories, but experts like Gorski have observed how they made the problem worse. "It's just way more concentrated and effective," he said. "You go on Facebook and type in 'alternative cancer cures' and you'll find stuff real fast."

Google accused of plotting to stop Donald Trump re-election in 2020 after top exec was secretly recorded - The Sun

Posted: 25 Jun 2019 11:17 AM PDT

A SENIOR Google exec has been secretly recorded appearing to suggest the search giant will try and stop Donald Trump being re-elected.

Released by conservative group Project Veritas, the clip shows the firm's Head of Responsible Innovation Jen Gennai saying the company will try and prevent "the next Trump situation."

 Google exec Jen Gennai is filmed talking about 'preventing the next Trump situation'

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Google exec Jen Gennai is filmed talking about 'preventing the next Trump situation'

In response to the video, Ms Gennai has insisted she was referring to "online foreign interference" playing a role in future elections.

During the 2016 race, it is claimed that Russian-backed trolls spread anti-Hillary Clinton fake news on social media in a bid to disrupt the vote.

Writing for Medium, Ms Gennai says she was duped into having dinner with members of Project Veritas who claimed to be representing a program for "young women of colour in tech."

LIBERAL BIAS?

In the video, she can be heard saying: "We all got screwed over in 2016, again it wasn't just us, it was, the people got screwed over, the news media got screwed over, like, everybody got screwed over so we've rapidly been like, what happened there and how do we prevent it from happening again."

She also said: "We're also training our algorithms, like, if 2016 happened again, would we have, would the outcome be different?"

Ms Gennai also defends the size of Google claiming the tech giant has the "resources" to stop future election interference while name-checking Democratic senator Elizabeth Warren.

EXEC HITS BACKS

She said: "Elizabeth Warren is saying we should break up Google.

"And like, I love her but she's very misguided, like that will not make it better it will make it worse, because all these smaller companies who don't have the same resources that we do will be charged with preventing the next Trump situation, it's like a small company cannot do that."

In her response, the Google executive called the claims that the company is trying to alter the 2020 election as "absolute, unadulterated nonsense".

 Ms Gennai has hit back insisting she was discussing preventing foreign meddling in future US elections

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Ms Gennai has hit back insisting she was discussing preventing foreign meddling in future US electionsCredit: Google
 The footage was secretly filmed by conservative organisation Project Veritas

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The footage was secretly filmed by conservative organisation Project Veritas

She wrote: "Project Veritas has edited the video to make it seem that I am a powerful executive who was confirming that Google is working to alter the 2020 election.

"On both counts, this is absolute, unadulterated nonsense, of course.

"In a casual restaurant setting, I was explaining how Google's Trust and Safety team (a team I used to work on) is working to help prevent the types of online foreign interference that happened in 2016.

"Google has been very public about the work that our teams have done since 2016 on this, so it's hardly a revelation."

Project Veritas also reports that a Google insider told them the firm uses Machine Learning Fairness to address "algorithmic unfairness" which influences how political stories are aggregated.

Documents leaked by the supposed source claims to show a liberal bias within how politics stories are treated by the search company.

MOST READ IN NEWS

The alleged company docs state that even when results are factually accurate "it may be desirable to consider how we might help society reach a more fair and equitable state, via either product intervention or broader corporate social responsibility efforts."

Project Veritas is run by conservative activist James O'Keefe and has been criticised in the past for selectively editing videos and using clips containing statements which have been wrenched from context.

The Sun Online has approached Google for comment.

 Jen Gennai has denied claims the search giant has a liberal bias

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Jen Gennai has denied claims the search giant has a liberal biasCredit: Twitter


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This Senator Is The Rare Democrat Not Running For President — But He Expects To Hear His Message In The Debates - BuzzFeed News

Posted: 25 Jun 2019 12:44 PM PDT

When Sherrod Brown settles in for the first Democratic presidential debates this week, the Ohio senator — and those who subscribe to his campaign's email list — will have at the ready a bingo card with a square reserved for his signature phrase: "dignity of work."

In an alternate universe, Brown would be plotting his own breakout moment in the debate in Miami. But he was one of the few Democrats to take a hard look at the race and decide against a run.

Instead, Brown has been listening. And what he's heard so far is familiar.

"Joe Biden said 'dignity of work' five times in his announcement," Brown said of the former vice president and early poll leader during a Tuesday interview with BuzzFeed News.

"I didn't count them," Brown quickly added. "Somebody told me that."

The pro-worker theme, which hearkens back to Martin Luther King's advocacy for sanitation workers, is one Brown pushed in the months he spent preparing for a possible 2020 bid. When he announced in March that he would not seek the Democratic nomination, Brown said he was encouraged that other candidates — such as Senate colleagues Cory Booker and Kamala Harris — had begun to incorporate it into their messaging.

Biden had not yet declared his candidacy, but since doing so has made "dignity of work" central to his stump speech. He and others have emphasized issues such as a $15 minimum wage, expanded access to health care, and the importance of organized labor.

Several Democratic hopefuls have sought Brown's advice, especially after he decided not to run. Two have called on him in recent days, ahead of the debates, though Brown declined to share any names. He suspects that some who have called are more interested in his endorsement, something he said he's not sure he will offer before the first primaries.

"I doubt it," Brown said. "It's possible I'd endorse late this calendar year, but I doubt it."

Brown is pleased his issue has remained prominent despite his absence from the race.

"The ones that are doing it well understand that dignity of work is about honoring work," he said. "It's all workers. It's not one gender. It's not one race. I think that's the theme that beats Trump."

So who does Brown think is doing it well?

"Nobody that I'm going to say," he replied, before wondering if a Google search of the candidates and the word "union" might yield clues. "I think candidates that are talking about unions are more likely to understand what the dignity of work is all about."

Brown said no candidate has disappointed him — "They've disappointed themselves, maybe," he said, specifying those polling below 3% — but also believes no one is talking about the dignity of work enough.

"Enough to me means building a whole campaign around it."

He's been happy to see candidates travel beyond early-voting and fundraising states to call attention to labor issues. Several candidates joined striking Stop & Shop workers outside their New England stores earlier this year. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont went to bat for Walmart workers at a meeting of the retail giant's shareholders in Arkansas.

"Now they go places — they go to Indiana or Kentucky or Arkansas or wherever for a message, and that's good," Brown said.

Brown said he doesn't regret his choice to stay out of the race. He sees himself as an influential voice who can make the case for what he believes in, in a less transactional way.

"I don't want to make too much of this," he said, "but in many ways I can push this message more effectively as a noncandidate."

As for his debate bingo card, he hopes candidates onstage in Miami this week will call attention to President Donald Trump's recent deliberations on Iran. Trump used Twitter last week to announce he had called off airstrikes, but Brown is concerned about "a recklessness of Trump's on-again,-off again" strategy and cabinet advisers he fears are pushing for military action.

Brown also hopes Biden "learned a lesson" from comments last week at a fundraiser where the former vice president cited as a virtue his ability to compromise in the Senate with segregationists such as James Eastland and Herman Talmadge. Other Democratic candidates, including Booker, were sharply critical of Biden's remarks. Biden and his allies have said the point was intended to show Biden could work even with those with whom he disagreed.

"I'm thinking he's not going to do it again," Brown said. "No, I don't celebrate that."

“5 Ways to Build a Google Algorithm Update Resistant SEO Strategy - Search Engine Journal” plus 3 more


5 Ways to Build a Google Algorithm Update Resistant SEO Strategy - Search Engine Journal

Posted: 21 Jun 2019 06:46 AM PDT

On June 3, Google pre-announced the launch of a "broad core algorithm update" to be released the following day.

The decision to pre-announce the update was presumably as much about Google's PR team stopping Gary Illyes from naming another update as it was to save SEO pros from freaking out.

CCN & the Algo Update Fallout

But freak out we did. Most notably, cryptocurrency news website, CCN reported that their organic visibility had dropped by 90% and that they were shutting down as a result.

While no one wants to see others losing their jobs, their "demands from Google" underestimate the complexities of Google's algorithms and completely misjudge how they operate as a business.

A three-month heads up on algorithm updates and what it might impact?

Direct communications to news sites that are about to experience substantial drops in organic visibility?

A global task force reviewing future algorithm updates?

Good luck making that happen!

It later emerged CCN's organic traffic wasn't struck by a random act of Google, but that the site wasn't without its issues.

Let's be clear if your business is that reliant on organic traffic, especially from just two pages, you're playing a dangerous game.

While CCN has since published a subsequent post to say that they are "rising from the dead", there are a number of more general points I want to make around the current state of search.

I also want to put forward several steps that SEO pros can take to become more resistant to algorithm updates.

Google Is Monopolizing the Delivery of the Web

While some of the recent condemnations of Google and how they operate are ill-thought out, they do have an unhealthy monopoly in controlling the delivery of the web, and it's only growing.

Let's look at some examples from recent times:

  • Publishers have been more or less forced to adopt AMP to have any organic visibility, which is basically a Google framework.
  • Google scrapes and publishes content from other websites in its search results, taking away clicks in the process.
  • A growing proportion of informational queries are now answered in the SERPs.
  • Google can override user-specified canonical tags and index another version of the page.
  • Google rewrites page titles and meta descriptions to better match user intent.
  • Local businesses, job postings, hotels, flights are all now handled by Google products.

None of the above will be news to most, but it's worth taking a step back to take in exactly how much control Google has over the delivery of our content.

Taking a purely objective view of these power plays, it makes sense to standardize the delivery of information through the lens of Google's material design. After all, who hasn't benefited from being served a handy featured snippet to answer a quick question?

Google has effectively taken the stance that, on the whole, websites can't be trusted to deliver well-structured, performant websites with reliable signals regarding indexing, internationalization, and the like.

Instead, Google tries to bypass these problems by standardizing a searcher's experience of the web and keeping you in their platform.

This is all well and good in terms of user experience, but from an SEO perspective, we're getting increasingly little back from a traffic source a lot of websites are terrifyingly dependent on.

The problem is that Google doesn't have any real competition (sorry Bing!) when it comes to search and that doesn't look at all likely to change in the foreseeable future.

For the time being, it's very much a case of Google says jump and we say how high.

How Can You Minimize the Impact of Algorithm Updates?

To save this post from becoming too bleak, I'd like to share some ways that websites can set themselves up to be more resistant to Google's algorithm updates and less dependent on organic traffic from Google.

1. 'Create Great Content'

Google's go-to recommendation following a core algorithm update can feel like a slap with a wet fish, but it isn't advice that should be overlooked. Maybe give that a go if you haven't already. Content is King™ and all that…

But seriously, as important as it is to keep on top of Google's algorithm updates and what they impact, we can get overly fixated on them as a community when focusing on executing on a long-term strategy should take precedence.

In the case of the June algorithm update, yes, we need to be aware that we can expect fluctuations in organic traffic. And yes, we should read authoritative analysis showing the common trends driven by the update.

However, these insights should be factored into a long-term search strategy rather than causing us to pivot and take a number of short-term actions to try and capitalize on new opportunities or claw back lost rankings.

The only way you're going to benefit from a core algorithm update is if you're investing in a well-reasoned long term approach to organic search which is committed to delivering performant websites that deliver quality content and valuable experiences to visitors.

2. Sound Long-Term Strategy, Over Short-Term Tactics

It's easy to preach about how SEO strategies should ideally look but what does that mean if you're facing the harsh realities of being hit by an algorithm update like CCN?

Providing your sites and business haven't been completely toppled by an algorithm update, these sites need to take a long hard look at:

  • How they approach search.
  • How they can execute on a strategy that has more longevity and carries less risk rather than blaming Google.

In the case of CCN, scaling the workforce of a site that is reliant on two pages to deliver the bulk of its organic traffic is irresponsible. Google didn't kill CCN, poor planning did.

It might be too late, but CCN should have been and should be planning a strategy to tackle the following issues (credit to Dan Shure for his insights):

  • How to reduce the proportion of organic traffic to its most popular pages focusing on the price of bitcoin.
  • How to reduce their dependence on organic traffic by building traffic from other sources.
  • Reviewing their approach to link building, syndication, and redirection.

This list might only be the tip of the iceberg but the point is that CCN has far bigger issues that they should have been addressing that likely contributed to the drop they saw following the latest core algorithm update.

Yes, Google should be held accountable and should be working to communicate more transparently with the search community, but that does not excuse the publisher's poor foundations on which they had built a business.

3. Be Selective in Who You Work With and For

Looking at things from the perspective of the individual, we need to be more selective about the websites that we chose to work on and the businesses we associate with.

When you come to seek new opportunities, whether that be in-house, agency side, contracting or if you're onboarding new clients you need to assess prospective businesses and their websites by asking questions such as:

  • How reliant is the website and business on one stream of revenue?
  • How volatile is the business' main source of revenue?
  • How open and flexible is the business to taking onboard and implementing new ideas, acknowledging and correcting missteps and shaping its strategy to a rapidly changing environment?
  • Does the business have a feasible long term vision and are their websites still likely to provide value in the foreseeable future?

We need to be more cognizant of the foundations and longevity of the businesses that we involve ourselves with and do our due diligence.

4. Nurture Returning Visitors & Build a Brand

Speaking from personal experience, I came to work on a site that had historically performed tremendously well in search in a highly competitive niche.

I was successful in building upon the site's existing success and significantly took their organic traffic to new heights, while also diversifying the site's revenue streams.

I was proud of what I'd achieved with optimizing and growing this site, but the problem was that this success was overwhelmingly based on visitors coming from organic search.

Despite the substantial levels of traffic to the site, visitors were only there because it ranked well.

Perhaps it was a failure of my relatively junior status at the time, but I couldn't convince the management to invest time and resource into nurturing returning visitors.

Lacking an understanding of the pace at which Google search evolves they were happy to count on good rankings as a given.

Years on and the site in question still performs well in search, but is (as far as I can tell) failing to capitalize on the phenomenal levels of organic traffic by building something bigger by way of a brand – or even an email list at the very least!

If I were presented with the opportunity to work on a similar site with a business of the same mindset today, I would like to think I would look elsewhere because they wouldn't pass the due diligence questions mentioned above.

5. Collaborate With Other Departments & Take a Broader Perspective

The future of SEO is only going to become further entrenched with other disciplines.

It is ever-more important that SEOs collaborate with and understand the challenges of the other marketing and business functions it is intertwined with.

SEO intersects with paid search, CRO, UX, PR, development and that's not even to mention the broader business impacts.

As such, search teams need to take a wider view of their place in an organization, build strong working relationships with other teams and collaborate with them to build healthier foundations for a business and reduce their dependence on organic traffic and its fluctuations.

One such example of where SEOs could take a broader perspective is with the newly released FAQ rich results:

The above example shows that implementing FAQ schema has seen organic clicks decline, which would typically be seen negatively from the perspective of an SEO.

However, this could be perceived to be a success by other teams as the answer to a problem is getting more visibility and their question is likely being answered faster without the need to click through to the website itself.

For some questions, this might be a better user experience because users can get a faster answer and it could also reduce the number of support queries coming through as the question (and related ones) are getting more visibility.

By taking a broader view of success and adjusting KPIs accordingly to work alongside other business functions we can build more successful websites and cohesive digital businesses that work towards a common goal.

Conclusion

This post is far from an exhaustive list of ways websites and businesses can improve their immunity to algorithm updates and become less dependent on organic traffic, but more of a contribution to an ongoing discussion.

While we need to hold Google accountable in what limited ways we can, we need to direct our efforts towards building digital businesses with long term planning in mind.

Businesses that aren't desperately reliant on the black box of a third party.

Easier said than done, but it's something we should strive for!

More Resources:

They turn to Facebook and YouTube to find a cure for cancer — and get sucked into a world of bogus medicine - The Washington Post

Posted: 25 Jun 2019 12:11 PM PDT


(Cameron Cottrill for The Washington Post)

Mari pressed kale leaves through the juicer, preparing the smoothie that she believed had saved her life.

"I'm a cancer-killer, girl," Mari told her niece, who stood next to her in the kitchen. The pair were filming themselves for a YouTube video.

Mari said she was in remission from a dangerous form of cancer, and the video was meant as a testimony to what she believed was the power of the "lemon ginger blast." In went some cucumber, some apple, some bok choy, a whole habanero pepper.

While she pressed, she preached.

"I'm telling you, it's anti-cancer," Mari said. "It'll kill your cancer cells."

The video, first uploaded in 2016, remains on YouTube, but there's an "important update" attached to the video's description. It was written by Liz, the niece, a year later.

Mari's cancer had returned, the note said, and she had died.

When Mari's cancer came back, Liz wrote, her aunt opted to do chemotherapy. Her smoothie recipe remains online, with 506,000 views and counting. "I will not take down her videos," wrote Liz, who declined to comment for this story, in the description of a follow-up video, "as they continue to help people."

I found Mari's videos without looking for them last fall, when a search for a smoothie recipe opened up an algorithmic tunnel to videos that claimed to know the secret to curing cancer. These tunnels, forged by Google searches and Facebook recommendations, connect relatively staid health and nutrition advice to fringe theories, false claims and miracle juices.

But the web of false, misleading and potentially dangerous cancer "cures" and conspiracy theories isn't just there for those who stumble into it accidentally. More often it ensnares people who are reeling from bad news and groping for answers.

"People with a new cancer diagnosis are often feeling vulnerable and scared," said Renee DiResta, a researcher who studies disinformation. The treatments for cancer, especially chemotherapy — which targets cancerous cells but can also kill or damage healthy ones — can come with significant, unpleasant side effects. Facing the horrors of such a diagnosis and treatment, some people start searching for information and community online.

What they find can be quite disturbing to medical professionals: home remedies that purport to cure diseases with baking soda, frankincense, silver particles.

Google and Facebook have promised to crack down on health misinformation in recent months, as links between anti-vaccine conspiracy theories and measles outbreaks in the United States become major news. But bogus health information cannot be eradicated from the Web with a shock of chlorine. Health conspiracy theories and false cures have polluted social media for years, abetted by companies who have been more focused on building out the plumbing than keeping the pipes clean of misinformation.

Internet companies have long argued that Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act gives them the autonomy to moderate their platforms for abusive and harmful content, while shielding them from legal liability over those moderation decisions — and what their users post. Increased attention on how tech companies moderate themselves have led to calls from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to weaken, or revoke, this immunity. Tech companies have warned that doing so would limit their ability to remove hateful content.

For now, tech companies respond to reports of harmful content on their own terms, and at their own pace. The result, in the case of health misinformation? A long period during which seekers, ushered by algorithms, found themselves immersed in wells of dubious advice and conspiracy thinking. They soaked in the wisdom they found there, and carried it into their own networks by the bucketful. In this way, the proliferation of bogus medical science in the Internet age resembles a public-health crisis: The harm can be hard to calculate, and remedies cannot undo the damage already done.

As recently as late April, searching "cure for cancer" in YouTube (turning on "incognito mode" so that my prior search history wouldn't skew the results) surfaced several troubling results: The sixth video, with more than 1.4 million views, claimed that baking soda could cure cancer. The eighth was an interview with self-described cancer expert Leonard Coldwell, in which Coldwell explains that every cancer can be cured in weeks with a special diet that "alkalizes" the body, a claim that has been debunked by scientists. The video has more than 7 million views. (In an emailed statement to The Washington Post, a spokeswoman for Coldwell identifying herself as "Danielle" claimed that Coldwell, who no longer treats patients, had the "Highest Cancer Patient Cure Rate in the world," and boasted that Coldwell remained popular despite being "the most blocked Cancer Patient Expert in the world.")

YouTube is trying to plug the holes that lead to videos like the Coldwell interview. When I ran the "cure for cancer" search again, in May, YouTube's search results were a completely different story. The baking soda and Coldwell videos are still online, but no longer appear among the top pages of results. Instead, most of the top results came from major cancer research centers.

I asked YouTube about the change, which occurred just before we reached out to the company for comment on this story. I was told YouTube has started to treat search results for different types of topics differently: When its algorithms decide a search query is related to news or information-gathering on a topic like cancer, they will attempt to populate the results with more authoritative sources. The company said it is working with experts on certain health-related topics to improve results.

Even as YouTube patches "cure for cancer," medical misinformation remains available and popular in other ways. People who are susceptible to cancer misinformation aren't just typing keywords into YouTube. They're also turning to fellow travelers who followed the same algorithmic tunnels to the same wells, where communities members who have never met in person swap folk remedies and discuss the untrustworthiness of cancer doctors and pharmaceutical companies.

It's tempting to think of medical misinformation as a technological problem in need of a technological solution, but that's only part of it. The social media age has made humans part of the infrastructure of the Internet. And when it comes to medical information, it's not just algorithms that direct online seekers who are trying to figure out how to cope with a bad diagnosis. It's also other people.

For those facing a battle with a terrifying illness, hopeful anecdotes can be powerful. Anecdotes can turn seekers into believers, who can turn other seekers into believers. And on Facebook, those anecdotes continue to attract large audiences.

Even as Facebook works to limit the reach of anti-vaccine chatter, other medical misinformation is thriving — including bogus cancer cures. The boundaries between false medical beliefs are permeable: If you believe baking soda can cure cancer, you might also believe that the measles vaccine causes autism. (It doesn't.) Behind each "alternative" theory of cures and causes lurks a deep suspicion of doctors, drug sellers and especially chemotherapy.

On Facebook, I easily found groups devoted to sharing "natural" cures for cancer, where people who have cancer diagnoses, or care for someone who does, asked other group members for ideas for how to cure it. "Cancer Cures & Natural Healing Research Group" has just under 100,000 members. I joined the closed group in February, identifying myself as a Washington Post journalist to the administrators.

The administrator for that group initially agreed to speak with me in private messages. But then I was blocked from the group and the administrator's personal Facebook page. (The administrator did not return a follow-up email seeking comment.)

Facebook's algorithms then began suggesting other groups I might like to join: "Alternative Cancer Treatments" (7,000 members), "Colloidal Silver Success Stories" (9,000 members) and "Natural healing + foods" (more than 100,000 members). I requested access to some of those groups, too, and several admitted me. People in the groups would ask one other for cancer-fighting advice. Some would be told to use baking soda or frankincense.

Rather than remove the groups, Facebook's strategy to limit health misinformation centers on making it harder to join them unknowingly. Facebook said in an emailed statement that it "will alert group members by showing Related Articles" for any post already deemed false by Facebook's third-party fact-checkers, for instance.

Facebook is in the process of experimenting with how to address health misinformation beyond vaccines. One possibility might be alerting users who are invited to join a group that it has circulated debunked hoaxes.

To this point, it's been up to users to steer their peers toward or away from bad health advice. In one Facebook group, in February, a parent asked for advice on how to cure a child's strep throat without antibiotics. The responses were split; some told the parent not to mess around and go to the doctors for antibiotics; others recommended colloidal silver and hydrogen peroxide. The National Capital Poison Center notes that even food-grade hydrogen peroxide "should never be taken internally" unless extremely diluted, and that its use as an alternative therapy is "not based on scientific evidence."


(Cameron Cottrill for The Washington Post)

The world of alternative medicine-seekers has its own celebrities. The names are like pass phrases. Post a question about natural cancer treatments in the right Facebook group, and you'll get the names of supposed success stories that the pharmaceutical industry doesn't want you to know about, and the instruction to "do your own research" into their stories.

"CHRIS BEAT CANCER! Look it up," one Facebook user advised on a discussion thread.

So I did. The first Google result, when I ran the search in mid-May, was Chris Wark's website, where Wark sells access to his method for $147. Below that, Google also suggested a few specific videos from Wark, promoting his "cancer fighting salad" and a lecture on how he beat cancer with "diet."

Joanna Tackett, a spokeswoman for Wark, said in an email that Wark is not a doctor and does not provide medical advice, and that he has given free access to the paid program to hundreds of thousands of people.

Misinformation experts worry about "data voids," created by the way information gets indexed online. If the only people discussing and looking up a particular term or phrase are those advocating a certain view, people searching that phrase would be shown information that supports that view.

"You can easily dominate search results for a term when you've created the term and only in-groups use it," DiResta said. As social media companies identify and crack down on one search term, she said, 20 more might be rising in interest to take its place.

A Google spokesman said the company has worked to improve the accuracy of results for general health-related queries, but for very specific searches, such as "Chris beat cancer," the system is designed to return "results from a diverse range of sources to help you form your own opinion — some of these provide information about the book, while others provide critiques."

Google users searching for cancer information more generally might end up being served ads that promote dubious treatments, even if those sources don't show up in the search results. In a search for "cure for cancer," in May under incognito mode, the first result was an ad: "Stage four cancer survivor | thanks to natural cancer cures." The ad promoted a cancer clinic in Mexico that appears to use unconventional treatments. Another Google spokesman said that ads promoting miracle cures are against the company's rules, and that "if we find ads that violate our policies we remove them." The ad was removed after I flagged it in an email.

For some searches, the results will be a tug-of-war between the believers and debunkers. Searching "Chris beat cancer" did not reveal a total data void. Google did show me two results challenging Wark's claims about beating cancer with a healthy diet — but only after links to his YouTube channel, his website, the salad video, the lecture and a link to Wark's book. (When I ran the search later, after asking Google about the results, the challenges appeared a bit more prominently.)

One of the challengers is David Gorski, a surgical oncologist at Wayne State University School of Medicine who runs a blog, called Science-Based Medicine, devoted to medical bunk.

Gorski dove down the cancer conspiracy theory tunnels a decade ago, armed with science and determined to stanch as much misinformation as he could. Back then, he said, "all there really was were websites, blogs and discussion boards that were privately maintained. Their reach was nowhere near what Facebook came to be."

Now, Gorski faces not only a more forceful tide of misinformation but also intense blowback from those who have responded to his work. Accusations of wrongdoing from holistic healing sites, and a wave of negative ratings on his Vitals.com profile, have tainted the results of Google searches for his name.

Gorski's debunking of Wark's story was simple. Wark, who says he had surgery for his Stage 3 colon cancer but refused chemotherapy after, had a 64 percent chance of surviving five years with surgery alone, Gorski said. To get that figure, the oncologist used a tool called Adjuvant Online, which helps doctors assess the risks and benefits of potential therapies designed to prevent the recurrence of cancer after it is treated. The database used clinical trial data from a wide range of studies.

"Attempts to discredit me because I had surgery give far too much weight to my personal story, and miss the larger message. . . . People have healed all types and stages of cancer holistically (against the odds)," Wark said in a statement. "As a patient advocate, I am highly critical of the cancer industry and pharmaceutical industry," he added, before saying that "I do not tell patients not to do the treatment."

Surgery was the recommended primary treatment for Wark's cancer, Gorski said. Chemotherapy is a secondary measure, meant to help prevent the cancer from coming back. Wark's decision to forgo the post-surgery chemo was a risk, but by then the odds were in his favor.

After I was kicked out of the "Cancer Cures and Natural Healing Research Group," I joined the similarly named "Natural Healing & Cancer Cures Research Group," a closed Facebook group with more than 40,000 members. (Again I identified myself as a journalist while joining the group.)

That's where I saw a post by Beth Anne Rakowski, who said her sister was sick with Stage 3 lung cancer.

"She and I both agree," Rakowski wrote, "NO chemo or radiation."

I called Rakowski to find out why.

Cancer has haunted Rakowski for much of her adult life. She wanted to be a nurse, but when her young son got cancer she dropped out of nursing school. When he died in 1992, at age 4, Rakowski felt like she had died with him. Grief became activism, and she started raising money for charities that helped pay for cancer research. Later, her brother-in-law and her father were diagnosed. They died, too.

Rakowski had health issues of her own, and on the advice of a friend she visited two naturopathic doctors. When their practices closed (Rakowski blames Big Pharma), she started seeking out remedies online. She found Facebook groups full of them.

"I used Facebook health groups just full-speed ahead," Rakowski told me in a March phone interview from her mother's home, where she is a full-time caretaker, "and I couldn't believe what resources were on there were. People, you know, to help other people because they've been there." The Facebook groups were Rakowski's lifeline.

She came to believe that chemotherapy, not cancer, had killed her son, father and brother-in-law. "Talk about parental guilt and remorse," Rakowski told me.

Now, every sick relative is a chance for redemption. She advised her sister against chemotherapy or radiation to treat her lung cancer. Rakowski wanted her to use "naturals" and "immunotherapy" instead. And so she turned to her lifeline: the other members of the Natural Healing & Cancer Cures Research Group.

"If you can please give me a list," she wrote in a post on the Facebook group, "in order of urgency and priority, of what you feel is imperative for nutrition, immune boosting, cancer killing, and whatever else you feel my sister needs."

The responses flooded in by the dozens.

Salt water baths. 4 times a day.

B17 vitamin. . .CBD Oil full spectrum.

Add Wheatgrass juice to your sister's diet.

Rakowski's sister trusted her doctors: She did chemotherapy. Then she got an infection in her lungs, according to Rakowski, and in March her doctors said it was time to enter hospice. But Rakowski still had hope. She said she convinced her sister to wait on hospice, and went to a health food store that evening and bought a small fortune's worth of essential oils.

She believed she could heal her sister's lungs with fenugreek, licorice root, peppermint oil and oregano oil. Once her sister's lungs were better, Rakowski believed, she could get to work curing her cancer.

In May, Rakowski wanted me to know that she believed her sister was a miracle. Once the infection had subsided, she texted to say the doctors had offered to start her sister on chemotherapy again. "My sister declined," she wrote, and decided to continue with "natural supplements and natural oils."

When Rakowski and I talked about health, it sometimes felt like we were talking about faith. The story she tells about her sister's illness is meant as a parable about how chemotherapy can kill. She saw me, and the readers of this article, as potential converts.

I told Rakowski that I believed the groups she depended on exploited people's desire for hope in the face of a bleak prognosis. When there are no options left, it's powerful to find a community that tells you otherwise, even if those options turns out to be ineffective or even harmful.

But each time I challenged her with a counterpoint, Rakowski waved it away. The government was covering up evidence that supported her views, she told me. The treatments she found on Facebook worked for her, she believed, and that was all the proof she needed.

As a surgical oncologist, Gorski sees the effect that medical misinformation can have on the body. A couple of times a year, he says, he'll treat "patients with neglected cancers, who try to treat their cancers naturally" before turning to medicine. The tumors have become "nasty ulcerating masses." Even for patients with terminal diagnoses, traditional medicine can offer palliative care that can manage the pain and may be covered by health insurance.

After years of allowing health misinformation to spread, social media companies are beginning to treat the problem the best they can. They didn't create cancer conspiracy theories, but experts like Gorski have observed how they made the problem worse. "It's just way more concentrated and effective," he said. "You go on Facebook and type in 'alternative cancer cures' and you'll find stuff real fast."

Google accused of plotting to stop Donald Trump re-election in 2020 after top exec was secretly recorded - The Sun

Posted: 25 Jun 2019 11:17 AM PDT

A SENIOR Google exec has been secretly recorded appearing to suggest the search giant will try and stop Donald Trump being re-elected.

Released by conservative group Project Veritas, the clip shows the firm's Head of Responsible Innovation Jen Gennai saying the company will try and prevent "the next Trump situation."

 Google exec Jen Gennai is filmed talking about 'preventing the next Trump situation'

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Google exec Jen Gennai is filmed talking about 'preventing the next Trump situation'

In response to the video, Ms Gennai has insisted she was referring to "online foreign interference" playing a role in future elections.

During the 2016 race, it is claimed that Russian-backed trolls spread anti-Hillary Clinton fake news on social media in a bid to disrupt the vote.

Writing for Medium, Ms Gennai says she was duped into having dinner with members of Project Veritas who claimed to be representing a program for "young women of colour in tech."

LIBERAL BIAS?

In the video, she can be heard saying: "We all got screwed over in 2016, again it wasn't just us, it was, the people got screwed over, the news media got screwed over, like, everybody got screwed over so we've rapidly been like, what happened there and how do we prevent it from happening again."

She also said: "We're also training our algorithms, like, if 2016 happened again, would we have, would the outcome be different?"

Ms Gennai also defends the size of Google claiming the tech giant has the "resources" to stop future election interference while name-checking Democratic senator Elizabeth Warren.

EXEC HITS BACKS

She said: "Elizabeth Warren is saying we should break up Google.

"And like, I love her but she's very misguided, like that will not make it better it will make it worse, because all these smaller companies who don't have the same resources that we do will be charged with preventing the next Trump situation, it's like a small company cannot do that."

In her response, the Google executive called the claims that the company is trying to alter the 2020 election as "absolute, unadulterated nonsense".

 Ms Gennai has hit back insisting she was discussing preventing foreign meddling in future US elections

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Ms Gennai has hit back insisting she was discussing preventing foreign meddling in future US electionsCredit: Google
 The footage was secretly filmed by conservative organisation Project Veritas

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The footage was secretly filmed by conservative organisation Project Veritas

She wrote: "Project Veritas has edited the video to make it seem that I am a powerful executive who was confirming that Google is working to alter the 2020 election.

"On both counts, this is absolute, unadulterated nonsense, of course.

"In a casual restaurant setting, I was explaining how Google's Trust and Safety team (a team I used to work on) is working to help prevent the types of online foreign interference that happened in 2016.

"Google has been very public about the work that our teams have done since 2016 on this, so it's hardly a revelation."

Project Veritas also reports that a Google insider told them the firm uses Machine Learning Fairness to address "algorithmic unfairness" which influences how political stories are aggregated.

Documents leaked by the supposed source claims to show a liberal bias within how politics stories are treated by the search company.

MOST READ IN NEWS

The alleged company docs state that even when results are factually accurate "it may be desirable to consider how we might help society reach a more fair and equitable state, via either product intervention or broader corporate social responsibility efforts."

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Jen Gennai has denied claims the search giant has a liberal biasCredit: Twitter


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This Senator Is The Rare Democrat Not Running For President — But He Expects To Hear His Message In The Debates - BuzzFeed News

Posted: 25 Jun 2019 12:44 PM PDT

When Sherrod Brown settles in for the first Democratic presidential debates this week, the Ohio senator — and those who subscribe to his campaign's email list — will have at the ready a bingo card with a square reserved for his signature phrase: "dignity of work."

In an alternate universe, Brown would be plotting his own breakout moment in the debate in Miami. But he was one of the few Democrats to take a hard look at the race and decide against a run.

Instead, Brown has been listening. And what he's heard so far is familiar.

"Joe Biden said 'dignity of work' five times in his announcement," Brown said of the former vice president and early poll leader during a Tuesday interview with BuzzFeed News.

"I didn't count them," Brown quickly added. "Somebody told me that."

The pro-worker theme, which hearkens back to Martin Luther King's advocacy for sanitation workers, is one Brown pushed in the months he spent preparing for a possible 2020 bid. When he announced in March that he would not seek the Democratic nomination, Brown said he was encouraged that other candidates — such as Senate colleagues Cory Booker and Kamala Harris — had begun to incorporate it into their messaging.

Biden had not yet declared his candidacy, but since doing so has made "dignity of work" central to his stump speech. He and others have emphasized issues such as a $15 minimum wage, expanded access to health care, and the importance of organized labor.

Several Democratic hopefuls have sought Brown's advice, especially after he decided not to run. Two have called on him in recent days, ahead of the debates, though Brown declined to share any names. He suspects that some who have called are more interested in his endorsement, something he said he's not sure he will offer before the first primaries.

"I doubt it," Brown said. "It's possible I'd endorse late this calendar year, but I doubt it."

Brown is pleased his issue has remained prominent despite his absence from the race.

"The ones that are doing it well understand that dignity of work is about honoring work," he said. "It's all workers. It's not one gender. It's not one race. I think that's the theme that beats Trump."

So who does Brown think is doing it well?

"Nobody that I'm going to say," he replied, before wondering if a Google search of the candidates and the word "union" might yield clues. "I think candidates that are talking about unions are more likely to understand what the dignity of work is all about."

Brown said no candidate has disappointed him — "They've disappointed themselves, maybe," he said, specifying those polling below 3% — but also believes no one is talking about the dignity of work enough.

"Enough to me means building a whole campaign around it."

He's been happy to see candidates travel beyond early-voting and fundraising states to call attention to labor issues. Several candidates joined striking Stop & Shop workers outside their New England stores earlier this year. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont went to bat for Walmart workers at a meeting of the retail giant's shareholders in Arkansas.

"Now they go places — they go to Indiana or Kentucky or Arkansas or wherever for a message, and that's good," Brown said.

Brown said he doesn't regret his choice to stay out of the race. He sees himself as an influential voice who can make the case for what he believes in, in a less transactional way.

"I don't want to make too much of this," he said, "but in many ways I can push this message more effectively as a noncandidate."

As for his debate bingo card, he hopes candidates onstage in Miami this week will call attention to President Donald Trump's recent deliberations on Iran. Trump used Twitter last week to announce he had called off airstrikes, but Brown is concerned about "a recklessness of Trump's on-again,-off again" strategy and cabinet advisers he fears are pushing for military action.

Brown also hopes Biden "learned a lesson" from comments last week at a fundraiser where the former vice president cited as a virtue his ability to compromise in the Senate with segregationists such as James Eastland and Herman Talmadge. Other Democratic candidates, including Booker, were sharply critical of Biden's remarks. Biden and his allies have said the point was intended to show Biden could work even with those with whom he disagreed.

"I'm thinking he's not going to do it again," Brown said. "No, I don't celebrate that."

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