As news consumers, we can say this: It does not have to be like this. Imagine a newspaper posting unverified rumors about a shooter from a bunch of readers who had been known to perpetuate hoaxes. There would be hell to pay — and for good reason. The standards of journalism are a set of tools for helping to make sense of chaotic situations, in which bad and good information about an event coexist. These technology companies need to borrow our tools — and hire the people to execute on the principles — or stop saying that they care about the quality of information that they deliver to people.
All across the information landscape, looking for news about the shooting within the dominant platforms delivered horrifying results. “Managing breaking news is an extremely difficult problem but it’s incredible that asking the search box of *every major platform* returns raw toxic sewage,” wrote John Hermann, who covers the platforms for The New York Times.
Google is too important, and from what I’ve seen reporting on them for 10 years, the company does care about information quality. Even from a pure corporate-trust and brand perspective, wouldn’t it be worth it to have a large enough team to make sure they get these situations right across the globe?