Google has filed a patent application for technology designed to identify under-covered topics on the internet.
The Financial Times reports that sources familiar with the Google patent have described the technology as an algorithm that allows the search engine to determine 'inadequate content' on the web.
The algorithm uses information derived from the topics Google users search for, and what they find.
According to experts who have reviewed the patent filing, Google could sell or give away the data it collects from the system, complicating things for rival digital media companies coming up with their own systems.
Speaking to the Financial Times, a Google representative said: “Prospective product announcements should not be inferred from our patent applications. We file patent applications on a variety of ideas that our employees come up with. Some of those ideas later mature into real products or services; some don't.”
Companies including AOL, Demand Media and Associated Content are also developing systems that determine relevant, in-demand topics emerging from online user queries, and hire freelancers to write articles based on their findings.