When tragedy strikes somewhere in the world, especially when the news is breaking and the situation is confusing, readers increasingly head to the web first, seeking information and answers. Snagging those readers with search-clogging, click-baiting, hastily-written crap doesn’t give them the clarity they need. Rather, it increases fear and confusion, and proliferates misinformation. It’s irresponsible.
Kudos to Google for adjusting its algorithm to reduce stuff like this from drifting to the top of search lists, and for keeping its Crisis Response page up high with neutral, informative updates and message boards. But content farms, if they have to keep doing what they do, should really stick to what they’re good at: which is creating harmless and transparently useless posts like “How to draw a circle,” or “How to Open a Patio Umbrella,” which, I’m told, “can be a tricky task unless you know what you are doing.”