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article imageGoogle's new 'Fact Check' tags help combat fake news

By James Walker     Apr 7, 2017 in Technology
Google has announced a new fact check feature as part of its latest effort to resist the spread of fake news. Websites accredited as "authoritative sources" will now be highlighted in search results and a "fact check" tag shown for investigated claims.
Google said the feature will help increase the quality of information online. It is partnering with news publishers and fact-checking organisations worldwide to enable the new badges. There are now over 115 groups which help journalists to verify whether claims are accurate.
Google isn't manually marking articles as authoritative which could introduce a margin for error. The company will be relying on specially developed algorithms to identify trustworthy news sources and reports. This is required to keep the "fact check" tag neutral, ensuring the judgement doesn't end up representing a Google opinion on the matter.
In some cases, search results may exist where there are different conclusions on whether an article is authoritative. If different publishers review the same claim and make their own decisions, this will be highlighted so you can make an informed judgement. Google has decided it's better to display conflicting conclusions than to leave people without an overview of the opinions on a claim.
Google Fact Check
Google Fact Check
The Fact Check interface will be available globally in Google's search results pages and in Google News. It displays as a horizontally scrolling row of cards containing the section of the article where the claim was made, the person who made the claim and the result of each fact check on it. This will make it much easier to identify fake news stories without leaving the search results page.
Google won't be using the results of fact checks to determine the rankings of search results. The company could bring this into consideration in the future but for now the fact checks serve to display the general consensus on the authenticity of an article's information. Google won't be penalising sites that post fake news either. There's currently no label to mark repeatedly untrustworthy sites.
Google said it's launching the feature to help bring quality information to the surface of the Internet. This will ensure the long-term health of the web and news organisations which publish authentic and authoritative articles.
"Google was built to help people find useful information by surfacing the great content that publishers and sites create," the company said. "This access to high quality information is what drives people to use the web and for contributors to continue to engage and invest in it."
Google Fact Check
Google Fact Check
Google's announcement comes in the same week that Facebook announced a new set of measures to impede the distribution of fake news on its platform. It is testing new ways to flag potentially untrustworthy articles alongside improvements to the News Feed that will bury fake reports.
Both companies are stepping up their fight against fake news after being inundated with criticism earlier this year. After being accused of facilitating the spread of misinformation during the U.S. presidential campaign, Facebook has started to rise to the challenge of providing useful fake news moderation features. While Google's approach is less direct, partnering with fact check organisations to indicate legitimate articles in search results will help users to avoid being misled.
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