The war on Fake News is hotter than ever! Not so long ago we’ve reported on both Google and Facebook removing ads from ‘untrustworthy’ websites, which looked more like an overdue scolding than anything else. This time Google took a full on preventive approach with the launch of the Fact Check feature.
The problem with news today is in how fast everything spreads. The news industry these days is driven more by sensationalism and the speed of delivery than anything else. False claims multiplied by thousands of news sources may suddenly seem trustworthy and reliable to the end user – skewing opinions and manipulating thoughts. That’s where Google’s Fact Check comes into play.
How does it work?
From now on, when you use Google search engine or browse through Google News – pay attention to the snippets of information in the results. For this feature to work you’ll have to search for certain claims in the title. If a claim has been fact-checked – you’ll see who made the claim originally, what organization preformed the fact-check and how reliable the claim is. Don’t expect it to work for every search though. Sure there are 115 organizations fact-checking the news currently, and news publishers have to meet certain criteria to be labeled as ‘authoritative sources’, but the amount of new info is so massive, that the system only covers around 1% of it. Google also admits there can be some confusion in the level of accuracy as different fact-checking organizations can judge the same claim differently. Finally, there is the problem of timing. It can take days if not weeks for the algorithm to process a certain claim, but by then the damage could already be done.
This however, doesn’t mean that the feature is necessarily bad. The main goal of the system is in providing reliable information so that users could form their own balanced opinions. At the end of the day – it’s for you to decide what to read and what to believe in. It is the same kind of approach Facebook came up with recently, asking users for help, and marking questionable posts as ‘disputed’.
Google started beta-testing of the fact-checking system last October in the US and the UK. Now it’s available worldwide and in all supported languages, no matter if you are using Google Chrome or any other browser. Google promises to improve on the feature even more in the near future, making it more visible in the search results. As for now – it is just another small step in highlighting truthful and unbiased content.