My Google News feed is infected
February 10, 2019 12:50 PM   Subscribe

How do I convince Google News that I don't care about K*lie J*nner or the K*rdashians? (names obscured for reasons that will become clear)

Google News serves me fresh articles about them on a daily basis, not just in the Entertainment section, but specifically in the For You section (along with a few other subjects that Google is weirdly fixated on as apparent interests of mine).

I am the only person that uses my computer/phone/browser. I have never, to my knowledge, performed any Google searches about the K*rdashians, nor deliberately clicked on any article about them. In fact, I make a point of giving a thumbs down ("see fewer stories about this") to every single one of those articles that shows up in my feed. I've been doing this for months. It seems to have no effect, like those disconnected crosswalk buttons that serve only to provide the illusion of control. It’s gotten to the point where I’m starting to suspect that Google sees these downvotes as a form of engagement, and hence interest.

It seems like Google's profile of me has become permanently infected. This would bother me less if I wasn't actively repulsed by the subject in question. I don't want to dedicate any mental energy to the K*rdashians, and I resent that Google keeps placing these daily reminders on my digital doorstep, apparently because it thinks I like them. Is there any way to convince it otherwise?

The names have been obscured because I'm paranoid that, when the post confirmation hits my gmail, it'll worsen the problem.
posted by dephlogisticated to Computers & Internet (13 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I have absolutely no clue, but other folks have asked this same question here before. The answers, if I remember correctly, were about how to reset your Google News profile, which I have done multiple times and it does not seem to help whatsoever. I just don't use Google News or Chrome's suggested articles anymore, since the subjects it's sure I'm interested in are British football clubs and K-pop, which I have literally never once indicated any interest in at all, whatsoever. It also likes to feed me right-wing American political news, which I understand slightly more since I, like most of us, have read articles about Donald Trump and cronies-- though usually on far-left news sources, not Breitbart or Fox as it seems to suggest I'd prefer.)
posted by tapir-whorf at 12:57 PM on February 10, 2019

You can tweak a lot of this stuff in

Google thinks a lot of things about me that are patently untrue, but I consider that a feature rather than a bug.
posted by aspersioncast at 12:58 PM on February 10, 2019 [6 favorites]

Mine is infected by Fox News, which really bothers me. I think this "tool" built in to Android phones now shows Fox News to more people than would previously have willingly seen any Fox headlines. I'm wondering if someone should make a stink about this in the tech media. Anyone know anyone who might be interested in making said stink?
posted by twoplussix at 2:11 PM on February 10, 2019 [6 favorites]

Maybe I'm thinking about the two places where Android now serves you supposedly customized crap rather than Google NEws proper, but it seems like the same behavior:

-opening a new Chrome browser gives you a bunch of news and clickbait options before you've typed in your desired URL. That's where I see a shitload of stuff from Fox News, as well as topics similar to your Kardashian infection- it seems to decide that i'm interested in seeing a lot of something really random. It doesn't seem possible to change the news sources in the settings. Swiping specific topics away is what's supposed to customize it, but it doesn't seem to work (I tried to rid mine of a sports/football infection for a while to no avail).

-Swiping a regular Android home screen brings up these "customized for you" Google cards (I think now it's called Discover) which are obviously based on things I've searched or read or posted about online. They're slightly more relevant to my actual past reading history.
posted by twoplussix at 2:16 PM on February 10, 2019

Oh yeah, that was actually what got me to download Firefox for Android again, because fuck that noise.
posted by aspersioncast at 2:52 PM on February 10, 2019 [2 favorites]

Google thinks a lot of things about me that are patently untrue, but I consider that a feature rather than a bug.

I do too, for the most part. I consider it a sign of data-obscuring success when Google/Facebook serve me ads for things I have absolutely no interest in. In this case, however, I'm actually sort of offended that Google keeps showing me stuff about the K*rdashians, because they're media parasites who persist because of this constant sort of exposure. I feel like even acknowledging their existence perpetuates it, and I want no part in that cycle.

I know this isn't opinionfilter, but Google News is flatly sorta terrible, as is AMP, so you could also consider using a different tool for news feeds.

Any suggestions for particular tools?
posted by dephlogisticated at 3:12 PM on February 10, 2019

Feedly is the big one - I actually use Tweetdeck with a throwaway Twitter account and just don't read the news on my phone any more.
posted by aspersioncast at 4:23 PM on February 10, 2019

I have the SAME PROBLEM, right down to the celebrity family I am trying to never know anything about.

I gave up and finally decided that they are so in the news that those stories are being shown to everyone and there's nothing to be done but scroll on by. Google News is probably Google's worst product in its actual efficacy, but then again ONLY being shown news I'm actually interested in creates the bubble effect. I've been looking for other news sources because of this so thanks for posting this question.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 6:36 PM on February 10, 2019 [1 favorite]

In Android, you can click the three vertical dots on a story and pick not interested in stories about subject or from whatever site the story is from (I don't see any fox news or daily mail or infowars on my feed at all now). I have almost succeeded in removing all Meghan Markle/Prince Harry stories from my feed. (I just wanted to see her dress one time!)
posted by lovecrafty at 7:30 PM on February 10, 2019 [4 favorites]

Tangentially related: a former google engineer posted a good piece about this "phenomenon"
posted by =d.b= at 5:35 AM on February 11, 2019 [3 favorites]

My iPhone does this crap too. Marking stories as "dislike" has no effect. I use it as a sort of limiter on my news consumption—when I'm tired of looking at headlines about some pointlessly famous person, I go do something else.

A lot of things are just garbage and the news is pretty much one of them.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 6:50 PM on February 11, 2019

As an experiment, I decided to go scorched Earth and blacklist every news source that reports on the K*rdashians. It has had zero effect, because there are always more. There is no bottom to the cesspool. It goes on forever.
posted by dephlogisticated at 10:46 AM on March 2, 2019

UPDATE: I stuck with the zero-tolerance permaban strategy and eventually it started working. The number of articles has fallen from 1-2/day to almost zero. I don't know if I simply got rid of all the worst offenders or if the Google News algorithm finally took the hint. Either way, I'm considering this a tentative success. I haven't noticed any decrease in the quality of the news I'm getting, so it seems that nothing of value was lost by blocking media sources that produce this garbage.
posted by dephlogisticated at 2:50 PM on March 24, 2019

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