Google and Facebook are cracking down to prevent their ads appearing on fake news sites – Business Insider


Larry Page
Larry
Page.

REUTERS/Rick
Wilking


SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) –
Alphabet’s Google and
Facebook on Monday announced measures
aimed at halting the spread of “
fake
news” on the internet by targeting how some purveyors of
phony content make money: advertising.

Google
said it is working on a policy change
to prevent websites that misrepresent content from using its
AdSense advertising network, while

Facebook
updated its advertising policies to spell out that its ban
on deceptive and misleading content applies to

fake
news.

The shifts comes as
Google
,
Facebook
and
Twitter face a backlash over the role they played in the U.S.
presidential election by allowing the spread of false and often
malicious information that might have swayed voters toward
Republican candidate Donald Trump.

The issue has provoked a fierce debate within
Facebook
especially, with Chief Executive Mark
Zuckerberg insisting twice in recent days that the site had no
role in influencing the election.

Facebook
‘s steps are limited to its ad
policies, and do not target

fake
news
sites shared by users on their news feeds.

“We do not integrate or display ads in apps or sites
containing content that is illegal, misleading or deceptive,
which includes

fake
news,”
Facebook
said in a statement, adding that it
will continue to vet publishers to ensure compliance.

Google
‘s move similarly does not address the
issue of

fake
news or hoaxes appearing
in

Google
search results. That happened
in the last few days, when a search for ‘final election count’
for a time took users to a

fake
news
story saying Trump won the popular vote. Votes are still being
counted, with Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton showing a
slight lead.

Nor does
Google
suggest that the
company has moved to a mechanism for rating the accuracy of
particular articles.

Rather, the change is aimed at assuring that publishers on
the network are legitimate and eliminating financial incentives
that appear to have driven the production of much

fake
news.

“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,”

Google
said in a
statement.

The company did not detail how it would implement or
enforce the new policy.

Macedonia news


U.S. President-elect Donald Trump speaks at election night rally in Manhattan, New York, U.S., November 9, 2016.  REUTERS/Mike Segar/File Photo
U.S.
President-elect Donald Trump speaks at election night rally in
Manhattan.

Thomson
Reuters


AdSense, which allows advertisers to place text ads on the
millions of websites that are part of Google‘s
network, is a major source of money for many publishers.

A report in BuzzFeed News last month showed how tiny
publishers in Macedonia were creating websites with

fake
news – much of it denigrating Clinton –
which were widely shared on

Facebook
.

That sharing in turn led people to click on links which
brought them to the Macedonian websites, which could then make
money on the traffic via

Google
‘s
AdSense.

Facebook
has been widely blamed for allowing
the spread of online misinformation, most of it pro-Trump, but
Zuckerberg has rejected the notion that

Facebook
influenced the outcome of the
election or that

fake
news is a major
problem on the service.

“Of all the content on
Facebook
,
more than 99 percent of what people see is authentic,” he wrote
in a blog post on Saturday. “Only a very small amount is

fake
news and hoaxes.”

Google
has long had rules for its AdSense
program, barring ads from appearing next to pornography or
violent content. Work on the policy update announced on Monday
began before the election, a

Google
spokeswoman said.

The company uses a combination of humans and artificial
intelligence to review sites that apply to be a part of AdSense,
and sites continue to be monitored after they are accepted, a
former

Google
employee who worked on ad
systems said.

Google
‘s artificial
intelligence systems learn from sites that have been removed from
the program, speeding the removal of similar sites.

The issue of
fake
news is
critical for

Google
from a business
standpoint, as many advertisers do not want their brands to be
touted alongside dubious content.

Google
must constantly hone its systems to try to stay one step
ahead of unscrupulous publishers, the former employee
said.

Google
has not said whether it believes its
search algorithms, or its separate system for ranking results in
the

Google
News service, also need to
be modified to cope with the

fake
news
issue.

Fil Menczer, a professor of informatics and computing at
Indiana University who has studied the spread of misinformation
on social media, said

Google
‘s move
with AdSense was a positive step.

“One of the incentives for a good portion of
fake
news is money,” he said. “This could cut
the income that creates the incentive to create the

fake
news sites.”

However, he cautioned that detecting
fake
news sites was not easy. “What if it is a
site with some real information and some

fake
news? It requires specialized knowledge and having humans
(do it) doesn’t scale,” he said.

(Reporting by Julia Love and Kristina Cooke; Editing by
Jonathan Weber, Bill Rigby and Edwina Gibbs)

Comments

Write a Reply or Comment:

Your email address will not be published.*