SAN FRANCISCO — Amid criticism that fake news sites have contributed to misinformation and increasing polarization among the American public, Google announced Monday night that it will stop allowing fake news sites to use its ad software.
Facebook followed with a similar policy. “In accordance with the Audience Network Policy, we do not integrate or display ads in apps or sites containing content that is illegal, misleading or deceptive, which includes fake news," Facebook said in a statement. "While implied, we have updated the policy to explicitly clarify that this applies to fake news. Our team will continue to closely vet all prospective publishers and monitor existing ones to ensure compliance."
That shift could be a death-knell for popular click-bait sites, cutting off their access to the ads that make them lucrative.
In a statement, Google said it will restrict ad serving on pages that misrepresent, misstate, or conceal information about the publisher, the publisher's content, or the primary purpose of the web property.
The announcement came after criticism earlier in the day that searching on the phrase "who won the popular vote" on Google returned a false news story on an obscure right-wing blog that president-elect Donald Trump had won the popular vote in last week's election.
Trump lost the popular vote by nearly 700,000 votes but won the Electoral College, according to the Associated Press.
The article was still coming up as a first search result on Google at just after midnight Tuesday.
Facebook has also come under fire for allowing false news reports on its site, which CEO Mark Zuckerberg has vowed to weed out while saying that 99% of the news that appears on the social media site is "authentic."
A group of Facebook employees has reportedly created an unofficial task force to investigate the spread of hoax and false articles.
Recently, Melissa Zimdars, an assistant professor of communication at Merrimack College in Massachusetts, created a public Google Document of all of the websites that people should not trust for news that has been making its way around the internet, according to the LA Times.