The phrase "Don't believe everything you read on the internet" has taken on a whole new life since 2016--also known as the era of "fake news."
While internet hoaxes used to be pretty easy to differentiate from actual news (after all, how many 90 percent off sales can Ray-Ban really offer or round-the-world tickets can airlines afford to dole out for free?), lately it has become more indistinguishable--and more nefarious.
Google to the rescue.
After a recent wave of false stories around the Las Vegas shootings--and inadvertently spreading those stories--Google announced that it's teaming up with the Trust Project to better identify credible news, and therefore to combat fake news.
Publications now have eight "trust indicators" created by the Trust Project to add to their content that will make the creation of the content more transparent: They are:
1. Best practices (including who funds the publication, diversity of voices, corrections, and commitment to ethics)
2. Author expertise
3. Type of work (such as opinion or sponsored versus news report)
4. Citations and references
6. Locally sourced content
7. Diverse voices
8. Actionable feedback
Readers will be able to see how each article ranks in these trust indicators, making it much easier to identify misinformation--which ideally decreases the spread of that misinformation. Will this completely prevent the misguided truthers from reposting fake news on their Facebook feed? Not likely, but it will at the very least make it clear to anyone who sees it that they get their news from the fiction section of the web.
In true Google form, the search engine is using a new algorithm as part of the plan to combat fake news. Publications will embed the eight trust indicators into their articles, which will be readable in Google crawls (similar to the existing ClaimReview fact check capability).
In the spirit of only spreading real news, it might be a little too soon to say that Google is totally killing fake news--but it sure plans to strip it of its power. Labeling these false stories as not credible and pushing them down in search opens a more prominent platform for well-researched, fact-based, and accurate reporting.
In other words: Google is keeping it real.