Google’s step up on the fake news problem

Fake news gets a greater spotlight

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It is ironic that in the word ‘believe’ is ‘lie’!

Fake news has become something of a thing which has constantly been referred to in the media, and something which has been on the increase through 2016 and into 2017. In the most high profile of circumstances you will probably remember it from the American Election campaign and the ramifications which followed from this.

What is fake news? Well that is an easy one to answer. How it is identified and stopped is a whole different question however, and now one question where steps are being taken to look at the problem. In this posting we will look further at fake news and what is being done about it.

Google has recently started to introduce a facility into its search results and news sections which will show the audience whether the piece is likely to be true or false. These ‘outcome results’ are displayed based on the verification of what the actual piece or search is claiming. This system should be slowly expanded out and it is likely to reach UK and US versions of Google news later in the year. Some of the labels associated with these true / false claims are likely to be quite comprehensive because they will list what has been said, who has said this, and whether this is likely to be fact or fiction.

Who decides what is what?

You might think Google fact checks to determine which articles are reality, but this is not actually the case. Instead, publishers of news or other fact determining organisations will sort through these, and only when the articles have been verified will such a seal of approval be given.

Google has indicated that the purpose of deciding to do this is to allow people to see such articles which meet Google’s rules around the publication of news and newsworthy offerings. Cleverly though, it also clamps down on fake news, because it is like saying those articles which don’t meet their rules are not that authoritative in some way – could this be because they are fake? Well, possibly. We all know Google, and nothing new would be complete without some kind of algorithm involvement. From what we understand, publishers will need to be determined as ‘algorithmically authoritative’ by Google, but what this actually means in practice is not totally clear at this stage.

This will be seen as a welcome move. So many articles are uploaded every day that the internet is swamped between content that is real and fake. Determining which is which, is a big problem. With the addition and rollout of a feature like this, it should make it far easier for people to have a good idea on whether the thing they are reading is likely to be true or false.

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