The internet has always been full of misinformation and Google has recently taken another step in preventing so called ‘fake news’ from reaching its users. Google, as stated in their recent guidelines update, is blocking websites that conceal their country of origins from appearing in Google news.
On the surface this may appear to only be a small change but it is likely to have a fa-reaching impact. This step will effectively bury a large amount of fake news sites that deliberately mask their geographic location, reducing the chances of that misinformation from spreading.
The phenomenon of fake news has been brought to the fore since last year’s presidential election, where many people blamed fake news for helping to elect Donald Trump. While traditionally people would only get their news from reputable news publications, the advent of social media has made it much harder to distinguish reputable from fake.
This new attack by Google on fake websites is designed to help stop the spread of misleading outright false news. For example Russian propaganda publications who distribute fake news within the United States, acting as if they are US publications, will now have far less online reach.
Since Google’s search engine is the most popular way by which people discover news online, it’s not surprising that the tech giant is taking on some of the responsibility in burying fake news sites. While Google serves primarily to index content it has recently been required to curate and filter the content end users’ experience.
While these changes are unlikely to have a huge effect overnight, they will over time contribute to a more ethical and accurate internet. This feature combined with last year’s ‘Fact Check’ should prove useful in the fight to curb the spread of fake news.
Ever since the 2016 US Presidential election, Google has been under pressure from lawmakers and users to combat fake news sites. This includes the pulling down of websites that are deceptive by their inherent nature.
A Google spokeswoman told the media that this change was a matter of “adaptation”. She said that Google’s policies are frequently updated to keep up with a “constantly changing web” and that part of this was to ensure increased transparency about where people’s news is coming from.
Indeed, if Google wished to remain top dog in terms of aggregating internet content, they will need to meet the demands of an increasingly politicised web. In order to maintain their goodwill with consumers, Google will have to take on the responsibility at custodians of the internet for some time to come.