The 2016 U.S. Presidential election was an entertaining, mud-slinging, storm of accusations, from Hilary’s private email server to Trump’s tax payments (or lack of) – but just because the campaign has ended, doesn’t mean the finger-pointing has stopped.
Election sceptics are now turning on social media giant Facebook, claiming its plight of fake news stories and misinformation – which also circulated Google – played a part in the unpopular outcome of the election.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg had largely disregarded the claims before making a u-turn declaring, “the problems here are complex, both technically and philosophically”. Not surprising after a recent investigation conducted by BuzzFeed News revealed that 38% of right-wing news stories and 20% of left-wing news stories shared on Facebook were false.
But now Google are working together with Facebook to address the issue by attempting to slash potential revenue sources to sites who publish fake news by implementing a policy change.
In addition to this, Google issued the following statement:
We’ve been working on an update to our publisher policies and will start prohibiting Google ads from being placed on misrepresentative content, just as we disallow misrepresentation in our ads policies. Moving forward, we will restrict ad serving on pages that misrepresent, misstate, or conceal information about the publisher, the publisher’s content, or the primary purpose of the web property.
Zuckerberg has also outlined Facebook’s plans to deal with the plight of fake news, in a status posted on Friday he listed the following action points:
- Stronger detection. The most important thing we can do is improve our ability to classify misinformation. This means better technical systems to detect what people will flag as false before they do it themselves.
- Easy reporting. Making it much easier for people to report stories as fake will help us catch more misinformation faster.
- Third party verification. There are many respected fact checking organizations and, while we have reached out to some, we plan to learn from many more.
- Warnings. We are exploring labeling stories that have been flagged as false by third parties or our community, and showing warnings when people read or share them.
- Related articles quality. We are raising the bar for stories that appear in related articles under links in News Feed.
- Disrupting fake news economics. A lot of misinformation is driven by financially motivated spam. We’re looking into disrupting the economics with ads policies like the one we announced earlier this week, and better ad farm detection.
- Listening. We will continue to work with journalists and others in the news industry to get their input, in particular, to better understand their fact checking systems and learn from them.
However, while Google and Facebook are two of largest ad platforms on the web, there are other options – so it remains to be seen if these policy changes will sufficiently address the wider problem of the circulation of false information.