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article imageGoogle now has its own fake news problem

By James Walker     Nov 14, 2016 in Technology
In the days after the Presidential election, Facebook was accused of aiding Trump by helping to spread false news. It has emerged that Google is also displaying fake headlines. The company is investigating an inaccurate report promoted in search.
Users searching for "final election numbers" on Google could be in for a surprise. As first reported by Mediaite, Google's top source in the search results links to a WordPress blog called 70news. The poorly built site is unlikely to be what users are looking for but Google is currently promoting it above all else.
The title of the article that makes it to Google's top spot ends with "Hey Change.org, scrap your loony petition now!" The article claims to provide the final election results, suggesting Trump won the popular vote by a margin of 700,000 votes. Clinton is currently leading by around 668,000, a figure that some think may rise to two million.
Google promoting a fake news article to the top of its news results
Google promoting a fake news article to the top of its news results
The 70news report cites "twitter posts" (no capitalisation) as the source of the figures. The author, writing in the first person, pledged "I won't hesitate to change the numbers" if it turns out the figures are wrong. The site said "It's the job of the establishment media to tell the people the final numbers when it's out there already."
There isn't a lot to suggest 70news is an authentic news site deserving a place at the top of Google. It's using a free ".wordpress.com" domain, hasn't changed its icon and includes "Hillary's Health" amongst its primary navigation topics. Combined with its fake headlines, it seems unthinkable that the blog has made it to the very top of Google's news cards. Other reports on the website include a "politics" story linking the U.S. Council on American-Islamic Relations to terrorist group Al-Qaeda.
70news' article on the popular vote appears in other areas of Google's election coverage, including its new digital assistant Google Assistant. Searching for similar terms, including "final popular vote," delivers the same result. An unassuming user who doesn't frequently read news online could be convinced that 70news' coverage is genuine.
Google presents its news box as a place to quickly find out what's happening in the headlines. People neither expect or want to see links to poorly written personal blogs that have little relevance to the news. The lack of any generally well-regarded sites in the top three results suggests Google's algorithm has had trouble prioritising the wealth of stories covering the U.S. election.
The company has not yet commented on the placement of 70news' post within its news widget. It remains unclear why the site has been categorised as a reputable news provider, considering its inaccurate, opinionated nature. At the time of writing, the headline is still the top result when searching for the final result of the election, accompanied by stories about 70news' presence in Google News.
More about Google, News, 2016 presidential election, fake news
 
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