As I surf around and use the internet for myriads of purposes I run into post after post after post of news that quite frankly may not be totally true yet people seem to believe the crazy stories. I know we live in a crazy world but to believe everything you read is in itself…crazy. One of the most prominent sources of fake news being social media. I am not going to state any one source but I constantly witness people sharing, posting, tweeting and retweeting news that you can pretty much call fake at first glance yet people share them anyways, exceptions being malware controlled posts.
There are sites dedicated to publishing fake news and chances are that crazy news post you see pop up on your screen was started by one of those sites. Google is taking a stand against ‘fake news’ by introducing a Fact Check tag in their search results. When you search for info about a contested subject, Google will serve a page from a fact-checking site. The fact check will show up at the top in an area you most likely have seen before where things like recipes, TV show episodes, movie showtimes, and band discographies show as you perform searches on said subjects. The fact checks will be pulled from sites like Snopes and PolitiFact. These fact checks will also show information about the person who made the claim, details about the claim, and whether said site thinks it is true. After the top section traditional news stories will be presented as usual. The fact-check feature won’t remove false and offensive stories on Google but it is an attempt to better educate users on what they are reading about. To add in I would like to add that if Google will be pulling from different fact-checker sites you will run into different opinions on the specific news you are looking at.
Google in a blog post said, “These fact checks are not Google’s and presented so people can make more informed judgements,”
“Even though differing conclusions may be presented, we think it’s still helpful for people to understand the degree of consensus around a particular claim and have clean information on which sources agree,”
Google will not make it easy for fact checker sites to be recognized by implementing criteria that is rather long. Some part of the criteria involves use of Schema.org ClaimReview markup on pages where public statements are analyzed. The content must adhere to Google’s News General Guidelines which has a good amount of the same guidelines as any journalist. The final decision will be based on Google’s algorithms which will determine who is an authoritative source of information.
“If a publisher or fact check claim does not meet these standards or honor these policies, we may, at our discretion, ignore that site’s markup.”
Google News started something similar which was started during the US presidential election where a lot of news was not very trustworthy. Since it was a success Google then expanded the feature to Germany, France, and then went further by adding it in the Google News and Weather app in Argentina, Brazil and Mexico.
There has been fire shot out at sites who provide fake news online and as mentioned Google is taking steps to identify false and offensive content which is a battle in itself. Some of the shots fired come from different sources like a recent report by The Outline which shows how often Google’s search results can provide such fake news. Fake news is trending and along with that causing increased concern where, for instance, a parliamentary inquiry has been started by the UK Culture, Media and Sport Committee into investigating “fake news.” The inquiry has also urged British newspapers to called for a deeper examination of the issue.
Again I say the move by Google won’t erase the problem, but it will help people to make more informed decisions on the content that they read and hopefully people won’t be so quick to post all that garbage news. I suggest anyone reading this post that as they use Google or Facebook and run into news that sounds weird or crazy that they open up another browser window and do a search on the subject first and look to see if that news shows up on the bigger and widely known news sites. If not, chances are it is not true or has been exaggerated.