We live in an era of so-called fake news, so it’s perhaps unsurprising that internet giants are actively improving their content by attempting to separate fact from fiction.
This week, the world’s largest search engine – Google – became the latest to apply quality control with a new feature which adds fact-check ‘tags’ to news and search results.
Starting today, the company will work with third-party verification sites such as PolitiFact and Snopes to check content for its millions of users.
Together, they’ll add quality markers which rate the veracity of the journalism and, as a result, encourage greater accuracy from the sources.
Interestingly, the editing won’t be controlled by a single committee or company.
In fact, the feature will allow other writers and publishers to police content, meaning reporters can assess, edit and substantiate their peers’ work.
This allows users to question data they disagree with, much like people can with the content on sites such as Wikipedia.
But while the tags won’t appear on every search result, it will relate to the most pertinent – breaking news and browsed-for content.
‘This information won’t be available for every search result, and there may be search result pages where different publishers checked the same claim and reached different conclusions,’ Google said in a blog post.
WHERE DID IT START?
Fake news became a serious issue in the US election campaign, when fraudulent stories circulated on social media, potentially swaying voters.
Concerns have been raised since then about hoaxes and misinformation affecting elections in Europe, with investigations showing how “click farms” generate revenue from online advertising using made-up news stories.
Earlier this month, a move to combat it – The News Integrity Initiative – was launched with $14 million from Facebook, the Ford Foundation, Mozilla and others.
Based at the City University of New York’s journalism school, it will coordinate research, projects and events to combat the trend.