Is Google Showing You ‘Fake News’?
Fake News – a word that has been around for a while, but has come to haunt us a lot over the past year. Ever since the POTUS decided to unleash his flurry of tweets bashing the press, the word has become much more prominent. Increasingly so, because ‘Fake News’ has allegedly been causing the spread of a lot of misinformation on the internet.
The internet has become the number one news source for a majority of the people. Be it Facebook’s timeline, Google News, Twitter, Reddit or simply WhatsApp forwards – the spread of false information has become a plague that internet giants are fighting a failing battle against. Despite trying their very best, social media and internet powerhouses such as Google and Facebook are fighting a failing battle against fake news.
Google has internally been calling this problem as ‘Evil Unicorns’. Basically, these are unverified news sources popping up on obscure topics. The problem begins to grow when unverified news sources begin to rank on trending news.
The Biggest Problem in the Fight Against Fake News
Let us now take a look at why these evil unicorns pop up so often. The biggest problem that any company faces during such a time is the lack of information. Let’s say there’s a shooting in a city. Immediately after the shooting, a number of such sources begin to spread misinformation, mostly causing racial or communal tension – or with clickbaity headlines giving no actual information to the reader.
The lack of information against which truth or lies can be verified is missing immediately following the event. “As soon as an event happens, everything is new,” said Nate Dame, a search specialist at marketing firm Propecta. “There’s no system for the algorithm to filter out truth and reality.” This is one of the biggest challenges any online news aggregation service will face.
Fake News on Google Search
Here’s a quick look at some cases of these evil unicorns popping up, causing the spread of fake news via Google Search
- Right after the LA Shooting on the 1st of October, a number of unverified news sources and tweets misidentified the shooter, painting him with various political affiliations he was later found to be not affiliated with.
- The Sutherland shooting, which took place later in the month was another such incident where Google’s evil unicorns jumped in and branded the shooter as a member of antifa, an Anti Fascist movement.
These are the most recent examples where websites and tweets often full of lies tend to pop up on the top of Google Search.
What Is Google Doing to Prevent Fake News
Google has been working hard on their algorithms, trying their best to ensure such misinformation is not spread. While Google did not go into the specifics about their plan of action, the company has stated that their biggest priority right now is to revamp the breaking news section – which is the first place where users see any content. Tweets and headlines which are now being pulled out are going to be carefully curated and from highly trusted sources.
In addition to that, Google is also working towards ensuring the video search around news events is limited to trusted sources. Verified news outlets on YouTube will be given a higher focus with this new search algorithm.
Does This Effectively Put Fake News To End?
There’s no sure shot way to say so. Fake News on the internet is the misuse of a technology which was intended to help spread information. Real time news is something that is highly beneficial to many people, but is being exploited by these ‘Evil Unicorns’ who are trying to spread political propaganda and hatred. The best way to deal with Fake News is when we as a people come together and begin to differentiate between biased websites spreading propaganda of hate and verified news sources trying to deliver a well researched news story!
Source: Indian Express