Google is stepping up in the fight against fake news. Information runs freely on the Web regardless if they’re full of lies or a collection of facts. Sadly, people often take the bait from stories that seem buzzworthy yet are actually misleading.
Fortunately, one of the biggest information sources on the web is finally taking on the problem with fake news seriously. Google, in fact, recently rolled out a new feature that puts “Fact Check” tags on snippets of articles in its Google News results.
Mounting Pressure from the Public
There has been an increasing outcry over the negative influence of widespread fake news. Facebook initially took the brunt of the public’s criticism. Google, however, wasn’t immune from public scrutiny and eventually got put on the hot seat. According to critics, there have been many instances where inaccurate and misleading articles showed up in its search results.
In response to mounting pressure to monitor the content it shows the public, Google just launched a new feature on their search and news results. The said feature shows a “Fact Check” label for certain links indicating whether a third-party, fact-checking organization deems the story factual or otherwise.
A Positive Step Forward
While the search engine giant rolled out the feature in a number of countries back in October 2016, the company has now made it available on a global scale. It’s worth mentioning, though, that Google has been working with fact-checking organizations like Snopes and PolitiFacts for a while now.
In a sense, this feature is nothing new to them. The only difference now is that they have opened up the system to media organizations to use the feature to fact-check each other. Publishers like The New York Times and The Washington can now give their verdict on the reliability of an article.
“These fact checks are not Google’s and are presented so people can make more informed judgments,” Google said in a blog post. “Even though differing conclusions may be presented, we think it’s helpful for people to understand the degree of consensus around a particular claim and have clear information on which sources agree.”
How Fact-Check Tags Work
In reality, the Google hasn’t given up on its typical hands-off approach. The search engine is clearly letting others do the fact-checking and this strategy is designed to legitimize or question any claims online.
This means Google isn’t paying publications to do the fact-checking. Neither will the fact-check label rank articles differently. For the most part, search algorithms will determine whether news clips with added fact-check labels will appear in search results.
It’s important to note, though, that Google reserves the label for addressable public claims of fact rather than opinion. For news articles, any publisher can now add the following labels next to them: “True”, “Mostly False,” or “Pants on Fire!”
Checked search results will then list the name of the group making the assertion as well as the determination of the one who did the fact-checking. In the end, it’s all up to the reader to judge whether to deem the fact-checker credible or not.
Growing Campaign against Fake News
Analysts reckon that the spread of fake news pretty much fueled a storm on social media. Over the last few months, people readily gave merit to politically convenient stories over the factual ones by sharing often-deceitful posts to a broad audience.
For concerned news readers, this has been a worrisome trend. The entire debacle has highlighted the inability of internet companies to deal with misinformation.
In light of such heightened criticisms, Facebook and Google are leading the charge against the spread of fake news. Because both are the leading drivers of online traffic to publishers in the US, the two giants are employing varying tactics to slow down the spread of propaganda.
On Facebook’s part, the company introduced features designed to help users how to detect false news. If you are about to post a link to an article, the platform will warn you about whether the claims in the post have been disputed. This comes alongside an education tool they’ve launched to help you spot questionable content. Meanwhile, Google is starting to ban fake news publishers from its AdSense network.
Internet giants responding to the criticism of them unable to tackle fake news sources is turning into a victory for everyone on the Internet. We can only hope other Internet firms follow suit.