In a bid to tackle the growing menace of misinformation through fake news sites, Google and Facebook have decided to take steps to prevent abuse of their ad-selling services. During the U.S. Presidential campaign, a number of fake news sites ran stories without having any veracity. As it is difficult to distinguish between a genuine news site and a fake one, online readers often are influenced by the content that they read.
Google had already announced earlier this week that it will review its Google ads service to weed off websites that portray themselves as authentic news sites, but lack credibility. Facebook too said that it will update its Facebook Audience Network to ensure fake news sites do not appear in its top search results. While the issue of fake news sites is a longstanding challenge, it gained centre stage in the just concluded U.S. elections when many partisan websites were prominently displayed on both search and news results.
Facebook denied reports that fake news on its platform impacted the U.S. election, however, political observers of the view that any news viewed by millions of readers definitely had an impact on the how voters perceived presidential candidates. One of such fake news that Pope Francis supported Donald Trump for President was widely shared on the internet before it was established that the source of the news report was completely fake. The news story was first run by WTOE 5 News which has often published fake news and rumors.
Although Google’s social media network, Google + isn’t as popular as the Facebook, fake websites have often abused its AdSense program for monetization purposes. And, although the world’s largest search engine has made sweeping changes to its algorithm, some websites are still able to find a workaround to promote their fake news. The recent turn of events is expected to intensify the war on fake news sites. Google and Facebook will are likely to have stringent checks in place and an algorithm update may be in the offing.
Facebook chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, answered accusations that his social media platform veered voters toward one particular candidate by claiming that it was “extremely unlikely hoaxes changed the outcome of election”. Google spokesperson Andrea Faville accepted that linking to a 70News story – that stated Mr. Trump was ahead of Hillary Clinton in the popular vote – was a mistake and the company was working to make its search results more accurate.