By J. Arthur Bloom | June 6, 2019
At least two other blacklists are applied to Google’s web answers feature, one of which is manually edited, documents obtained by The Daily Caller indicate.
The first blacklist, titled “webanswers_url_blacklist,” impacts the company’s “featured snippets” or answer blocks, the type of special search result that appears when questions are typed into the search bar. For example, the question “What is the biggest fish?” yields a special search box on the whale shark.
In screenshots of the blacklist shared with The Daily Caller, the instructions at the top of the page say, “To ensure the blacklist will REMOVE a URL, add a line ‘# REMOVE url’.” And, “To ensure the blacklist WON’T remove a URL by accident, add ‘# PERMIT url’,” indicating that the blacklist is manually edited.
One of the blacklisted results was a Washington Post op-ed titled, “How Vladimir Putin Became The World’s Favorite Dictator,” which the algorithm pulled in response to the query “who is the dictator of Russia.”
In one of the changelogs for the web answers blacklist, a Googler alludes to the blacklisting of all opinion content for web answers.
“We are going to be removing opinion docs from all of newsey/political/sensitive webanswers. So, BLing any document that we consider to be clearly opinion is not an issue,” the note says.