Consumers to receive fake news alerts alongside search results
Google has launched a “fact check” labeling system on its search result pages as part of a growing effort to help consumers identify and scrutinize potentially fake news stories, the search giant announced in a blog post. The move is an expansion of a program introduced by Google’s Jigsaw group in October, which applied a label on some content in the search engine’s news section to identify articles’ claims and whether they had been confirmed or debunked by reputable fact-checking organizations.
Look for the label
Google will not be independently verifying information, but rather applying the labels to content from publishers that conform to the Schema.org ClaimReview markup requirements or that have incorporated the Share the Facts widget, which was developed by the Duke Reporters’ Lab in collaboration with Jigsaw. Additionally, sites must be “algorithmically determined to be an authoritative source of information” and adhere to the markup and site representation standards already established in the general Google News guidelines, as ZDNet explained.
Then, one of 115 fact-checking organizations, such as Politifact or Snopes, will provide their services to verify the content, reported The Christian Science Monitor. Because these independent organizations’ interpretations may vary at times, Google notes that it is aiming for a “degree of consensus” rather than an ultimate stamp of approval.
The fight against fake news
Google returns more than 77 percent of global search results, according to The Christian Science Monitor. Because of its massive market share, the company received calls to take a stand in the fight against fake news, which gained attention online in advance of the 2016 US presidential election. Facebook also received similar requests and launched a program last week that gives users tips on how to spot false news. Both companies have said they will not interfere directly by blocking or deleting fake news content, but will instead help users access tools and teach them skills to differentiate between true and false stories.
“With thousands of new articles published online every minute of every day, the amount of content confronting people online can be overwhelming. And unfortunately, not all of it is factual or true, making it hard for people to distinguish fact from fiction,” Justin Kosslyn and Cong Yu of the Jigsaw group said in Google’s blog post.
Though there aren’t any specific statistics on fake publishers’ motivations, money appears to be a common driver. Once a story goes viral, gains traction on social media or ranks on search engines, the host has the potential to make a significant profit off the site’s advertising revenue, regardless of the veracity of the content. One fake news author estimated to The New York Times that he made approximately $1,000 per hour he invested into his project.