Fake news became a common term in recent times—so common, in fact, that tech giants are now working to combat it.
Facebook has recently announced its intentions to stem the prevalence of fake or contentious news. A new feature that flags certain articles as “disputed” is currently in its testing phase. Now, Google will start displaying fact-check tags in its search results pages to help users distinguish fact from fake. Publishers and fact-checkers will vet search results and indicate whether the information is true or false.
Many of us know that we should take information on the Internet with a grain of salt. It's easy to make false claims and pass them off as true in order to push some agenda or other. With enough creativity and some Photoshop skills, people can convince others of nearly anything. However, there are those who don't take the time to verify information they get on the Internet. Thus, Google has decided to help users figure out which pieces of information have been vetted and verified.
This fact-checking feature has been available in the US and the UK since October of last year. Now, it will be available worldwide.
Of course, since there's a lot of new content on the Internet everyday, Google can't fact-check every single search result. Google will instead use an algorithm that will determine if a particular site is “authoritative” on certain subject matters. One of the things that these sites will have to have is references to the primary sources of information. These authoritative sources will be the ones who will display fact check tags next to their search result page entries.
The tags will display a summary of the fact-checking, as well as the fact checker's assessment of the truth or falsity of information.
The world's biggest tech companies had been embroiled in controversy and criticism due to the rise of fake news. People shared a lot of false information on social media, most prominently Facebook. False information spread more easily to more people through social media. Critics have thus hit Facebook, Google, and Twitter as well for their lack of effort in stemming the flow of misinformation among users.
Google's new fact-checking tool, however, will not flag websites known to post contentious information. With any luck, this new feature will make people more conscious about checking the veracity of information they see online. Fake news won't go away overnight, but these new features may be a step forward in the right direction.
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