It might be a good idea to think twice before using Google Home as a source for all your political questions. The virtual-assistant device is the latest technology to regurgitate fake news from the Web and present it as facts.
On Sunday, BBC News correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones asked Google Home whether Barack Obama was planning a coup, the smart speaker said that the former president is "in bed with the Communist Chinese," and may "in fact be planning a Communist coup d'état at the end of his term."
This occurs when Google attempts to answer by pulling information from the Web. When a user asks, "What is the capital of America," for instance, Google can pull from reputable sources to answer the question in a "Knowledge Graph," according to The Outline. If the search engine can't find information from a reputable source, it turns to outside "off-the-wall" sources and creates a "Featured Snippet."
Quartz reporter Mike Murphy asked Amazon Echo the same questions as Cellan-Jones, but the device said it did not understand the questions. Google told Quartz it fixes problems like the ones listed above manually when it's alerted to them.
Fake news and how it's spread came under the microscope during the 2016 presidential election. Since then, several social-media sites have take measures to either identify false reports or take them down. Facebook joined the campaign on Friday after debuting a "disputed" tag that will appear under news items that have been deemed inaccurate.
What's more, Facebook, Google, and several news organizations teamed up to fight fake news in France by launching a fact-checking tool ahead of the county's presidential elections.