Google Hits Out At Fake News

Fact Check feature introduced to counter spread of fake news stories

Apart from the fact there may be no World War Two Bomber On The Moon type of stories on Google, the search engine’s clampdown on fake news could see improvements to its news section, with stories backed up by linked sources.

Hands up who used to have a paper round? All these mornings or evenings carrying The Daily Telex or The Daily Moon to the top of the world? Sometimes, disgruntled of 56 Rochdale Road would give you an ear bashing over her missing copy of Yesterday. Ah, those were the days where yesterday’s fake news would become chip paper. On the internet, things are different: tomorrow’s chip paper is still on the internet. Five years on. Or longer.

This is why Google has begun a clampdown on fake news sources. Instead of circulation issues with the knock-off newspaper titles seen in our first paragraph, it concerns the source material of our current affairs. It is claimed that fake news stories about Hillary Clinton led to Donald Trump’s election. As well as The Daily Telegraph, Daily Star, and USA Today, we turn to other sources for online news stories. Not only established TV and radio broadcasters: also partisan outlets like The Huffington Post or The Canary for left-of-centre opinion. Or Infowars and Breitbart if you’re a right winger.

The authenticity of some sources are open to question (remember when your mum or dad used to say “never believe everything you read in the newspapers”?). So Google has decided to address these issues by means of an algorithm. If, say for example, you searched for the Northern Rail Strike on the 08 April, it would list as its sources the trade union’s website (the RMT in this case), local newspapers, and the rail franchise’s website.

Therefore, each result will be displayed with the headline and a summary of any given story. Trustworthy sources will be linked from the search engine. Using the Northern rail strike as our example, the link would lead to Northern’s website. Another source would link to, for example, the Manchester Evening News or another local newspaper published in the area affected by the strike. One thing Google won’t be doing is fact checking every single article. Nor will it affect the state of search engine results.

Net Sixty Six SEO, 07 April 2017.