Google is taking a major step toward combating fake news on the internet.
The Alphabet-owned company announced in a statement Monday they are working on banning Google ads from being placed on “misrepresentative content.”
"Moving forward, we 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 company announced in a statement.
The company hopes the move will reduce many of these websites’ main sources of revenue, potentially leading to a decrease in fake new sites.
Google already fights off harmful ads. The tech giant shuts down “phishing” and scam ads, as well as those which carry malware, covers up content on a web page or promote fake goods.
Google disabled more than 780 million ads in 2015 for violating their policies, according to a Google blog post.
The company uses advanced technology and a global team of more than 1,000 people to enforce their ad policy and plans to do the same for their new fight against fake news.
"We'll enforce this policy the same we do all our policies, through a combination of automated systems and human review," said Andrea Faville, spokesperson for Google.
It won't be long until the content crackdown begins.
The changes are “imminent,” Faville said.
Google isn't the only tech company doing their part to eliminate the spread of false news.
Facebook was recently slammed by critics who suggested fake news and hoaxes on the social networking site could have influenced the 2016 presidential election.
Although Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerburg initially denied fake news on the social site as having impacted the election, he released a statement Saturday stating the company will work to “flag fake news and hoaxes,” while reiterating his earlier comments.
Google and Facebook's decisions to combat the issue of online fake news has a significant impact on Americans since most receive news online.
About 62 percent of American adults get their news on social media, according to a Pew Research Center report released this year.
The report found 18 percent of U.S. adults get their news from social media “often.”
Spotting fake news
Just like there are distinctions which can help tell a fake designer handbag from a real one, there's also ways to spot fake news from credible news.
Cracking down on false information means recognizing it.
Here are 5 questions to ask when looking for credible news:
- Who is telling you the news? There are many news outlets that have long-standing reputations as reliable news sources. If you're not familiar with the source, take the time to do a quick Google search on the company behind the website or on the author of the information being delivered to learn a little background. Ask yourself if it's a possibility the source could be wrong once you know who your source is.
- What is the evidence? In the digital age, legitimate information can come from anyone with a cell phone, but it's important to examine the content. Is there clear video or photos of an incident or report? Is the evidence telling a full and fair story? And ask again, who is the source?
- Where did the information come from? Was the information directly received by the website or is there an attribution to another source? It's important to trace the information to a credible and direct news source.
- When was the information reported? It's good to know if you're getting the latest information on a story. News moves very quick and it's crucial to have the latest information in case there's been a change, correction or new insight on a report. Check the dates and time the information was published. That said, if you come across fresh news, take some time to do some research on the topic being reported to get some background context.
- Why is the information being reported? Does the source have an agenda? It's a good idea to ask who the audience of a source may be and whether or not there may be a bias reason for the information.
As a last tip, always make sure to cross reference with your source. Search to see if other credible sources are also reporting the same information. If it's breaking news, be certain your primary source is trustworthy.
Just like a false rumor can severely damage a person's reputation, fake news can damage a society and encourage dangerous behavior.
Google is host to seemingly infinite websites, giving opportunity for millions of fake news sites to make the internet home.
Will you do your part in separating true and false?
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