As fake news continues to swirl online and confuse people, Google took a huge step in its quest to curb the proliferation of dubious websites spreading inaccurate information.
The tech giant confirmed that it has started removing from their search engine's news search results publications that veil their country of origin from the search engine's news search results. The move also covers stories that intentionally and blatantly mislead and confuse readers, Bloomberg reported.
The company updated its guidelines last Friday, saying "sites included in Google News must not misrepresent, misstate, or conceal information about their ownership or primary purpose, or engage in coordinated activity to mislead users." In addition, it also clarified that the rule "includes, but isn't limited to, sites that misrepresent or conceal their country of origin or are directed at users in another country under false premises."
For news websites to appear in Google's news search results, they must first go through stringent criteria while clearly indicating their primary purposes, as well as their owners. A Google spokeswoman shared the significance of the move, noting that the company has to adapt and improve its policies to "reflect a constantly changing web." Moreover, the Google rep also stressed that in doing so, it means that readers can "understand and see where their news online is coming from."
The rise of fake and misleading news came into the spotlight right around the time of the U.S. elections in 2016. Groups like the Kremlin-backed Russian Internet Research Agency posed as legitimate U.S. news outlets to reach a wider range of readership and effectively spread false news. Apart from Google, Facebook and Twitter have also been criticized for allowing fake news to spread, the Bloomberg report added.
Now that Google has tightened its rules on its search results, it will be interesting to see how effective the new guidelines will be. In addition, the public should also keep watch if popular social media companies will further improve their rules on sharing and posting news from various sources.