Fake news sites have been around for as long as the internet – they don’t really serve any real purpose, apart from to make the owner some money – some fake news sites publish comical stories, some, on the other hand, publish stories which look factually correct but aren’t, and we feel these are the most dangerous type – misinforming users about some certain things, such as how to do something, can be irresponsible, and downright dangerous.
Google, and their crusade against such websites has already began, and 2017 is going to be huge in the fight against fake news sites.
Google have already started the fight, with algorithm changes automatically demoting fake news, manual reviews on websites believed to be serving fake news, and of course, one of their big updates – fact checking.
What is fact checking? Well, Google have started showing a fact checked signal when websites are showing factually correct information – now, obviously this does not mean that a website without the fact check signal showing is showing fake news, but it does mean that if a site has the fact check signal, then the news has been verified.
So how exactly is Google handling each of the different checks?
Google has, and always has had the ability to choose what does, and does not show in their listings. The likes of Google News has stringent guidelines which publishers must meet – the publisher then needs to submit an application for inclusion and have their website manually reviewed.
It is very rare that a normal news site be manually reviewed (i.e a site which has not applied to Google News) so these fake stories can, and do get through.
Google is aiming to work on this through increased manual reviews.
Google’s Algorithm will be changing to try and give less weight to fake news stories – rather than use the current system of showing “authority” type websites higher in the rankings – Google ranks authority based on many outside factors, most of which are heavily influencable by third parties, which means the authority is established by people outside of Google, and can be manipulated.
Future algorithm changes will see a different method of ranking/deciding what to show when it comes to news stories – probably using the fact checking signals amongst other things.
De-Incentvising fake news publishers
The main reason for creating fake news sites is monetisation, with many of the big sites making thousands per month from their fake news stories – but this is changing.
As of last month, both Google, and Facebook – the 2 huge players in the ad world, have banned fake news sites from using their advertising network.
Of course, there are smaller ad networks which can still be used, but these are likely to generate less income, and will probably follow suit shortly.
In October this year, Google added Fact Checking to Google News stories – this means any story in Google news which has been checked and verified as true, will have a label showing it has been fact checked – this may make its way into other listings, and would go some way to verifying a news story is real or not
The main issue we can see with fact checking is, we can see it being manipulated, whether that is from fact checking services incorrectly flagging as fact, or sites publishing real stories to get the fact check, then editing the story down the line.
It looks like the time for earning a living from lying to the public is over – and we think that’s great, 2017 will see more factual stories and less made up rubbish, and that is good for everyone.