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Google to check facts in news stories

Posted on October 17, 2016

 

Search giant Google has recently announced that it intends to introduce a new feature to its News section that will check the accuracy of stories posted there.

The objective of this update is to cut down on the number of misleading, inaccurate and false details in a number of online news articles that feature in Google News.

To do this, the California-based company has added a ‘fact check’ tag to its News section that will utilise the tools of official fact-checking platforms, such as UK based charity Full Fact. Google hopes that the implementation of the fact checker update will enable and encourage accurate news to be found and shared online.

Furthermore, the company will now also pull through articles from fact-checking websites alongside the regular news articles that appear in News on any given topic. There are over 100 of these dedicated fact-checker websites across the world, with two of them being based in the UK, according to research conducted by Duke University in North Carolina.

These fact-checker companies are able to complete their tasks through the use of a special type of code that Google will use to determine the authenticity and factuality of any given news article that appears on its platforms. As well as this, it will also scan to see if they follow the criteria widely accepted for these pieces.

Fact-checker websites examine thousands of stories and the claims made within them across a variety of subjects, including politics, the media, health and urban legend, and Google hopes to make the most of these checks.

The code that these sites use works in a similar fashion to the ‘Local News’, ‘In-Depth’ and ‘Opinion’ tags in Google News, and are set to appear before the article’s headline as ‘Fact Check’.

It is believed that this update has been introduced amid growing speculation and concern regarding the truth in statements appearing in a number of news articles that are published and promoted through Google News.

Similarly, social media network Facebook has also come under scrutiny for promoting fake or misleading news articles after a large number of its 1.6 billion user base found that articles in its news section contained inaccurate stories, some of which were even argued to have been offensive.

Facebook was forced to announce that it had to tweak its news algorithms after an incident where it promoted some allegations regarding Hilary Clinton and Megyn Kelly. However, after these changes were announced, more fake stories were published on the site.

In a world where everyone’s opinions end up online, it is important for sites such as Google and Facebook to differentiate fact from fiction, as it could have huge implications on their credibility.

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