Wed | Sep 20, 2017

Google expands fact checking in news searches

Published:Sunday | April 9, 2017 | 4:00 AM
Google Inc’s Nexus One phone showing the search company’s website.

Google will expand the use of 'fact check' tags in its search results - the tech industry's latest effort to combat false and misleading news stories.

People who search for a topic in Google's main search engine or the Google News section will see a conclusion such as "mostly true" or "false" next to stories that have been fact-checked.

Google has been working with more than 100 news organisations and fact-checking groups, including the Associated Press, the BBC and NPR. Their conclusions will appear in search results as long as they meet certain formatting criteria for automation.

Google said only a few of those organisations, including PolitiFact and Snopes.com, have already met those requirements; The Washington Post also says it complies. Google said that it expects the ranks of compliant organisations to grow following Friday's announcement.

Not all news stories will be fact-checked. Multiple organisations may reach different conclusions; Google will show those separately.

IMPACT UNKNOWN

Still unanswered is whether these fact-check analyses will sway people who are already prone to believe false reports because they confirm preconceived notions.

Google started offering fact-check tags in the United States and the United Kingdom in October and expanded the program to a handful of other countries in the subsequent months. Now the program is open to the rest of the world and to all languages.

False news and misinformation, often masquerading as trustworthy news that spreads on social media, has gained attention since the 2016 US presidential election.

Google's announcement comes a day after Facebook launched a resource to help users spot false news and misleading information that spreads on its service. The resource is basically a notification that pops up for a few days. Clicking on it takes people to tips and other information on how to spot false news and what to do about it.

- AP