To take on fake news, Google is looking to fortify its biggest and best asset: the search function.
Google has announced that it is bringing its Fact Check tags to Google Search. The company is also expanding the tag in Google News for publishers worldwide. The Fact Check tag identifies articles fact-checked by news publishers and fact-checking groups.
The proliferation of fake news has put Google and other big internet companies like Facebook under heavy scrutiny. In response, these companies have made their own move to combat misinformation, such as the $14 million News Integrity Initiative.
Google's Fact Check Tag
Google made the announcement through its official blog. Google outlines the company's initial function, which is search, to help people get the information they seek. The web is where people can access the information from trusted contributors and sources.
However, it is impossible to discern which ones are factual among hundreds of thousands of articles. Fake news have become cancer-like, with thousands of fake news articles spreading rapidly across the web. This spread became more alarmingly prevalent during the U.S. presidential race in 2016.
That's why in October 2016, Google introduced the Fact Check tag to Google News. This is to help authenticate articles that have been proven to be factual. The articles would be fact-checked by news publishers and fact-checking groups like Snopes and PolitiFact.
Initially available to select countries, the Fact Check tag has been expanded to Google News worldwide. Users of Google Search will also find the tag in articles in their search results.
For example, a breaking news will have a Fact Check tag beneath the search result. Together with the tag is the group that did the fact-checking. The number of fact check groups have risen to 115, according to Google.
Fact-Checked By Different Groups, Not By Google
Google however is quick to point out that the results won't always have the Fact Check tag on it. Also, certain articles may show two fact checkers with different fact check results.
"These fact checks are not Google's and are presented so people can make more informed judgments. Even though differing conclusions may be presented, we think it's still helpful for people to understand the degree of consensus around a particular claim and have clear information on which sources agree," Google says.
There are requirements for publishers before they can be authenticated by this Fact Check feature. They must use the Scheme.org ClaimReview markup or alternatively, they can use the Share The Facts widget. According to Google, only publishers that are "algorithmically determined" to be a credible source will be included.
Most importantly, the contents. These should pass Google's criteria for fact checks and standards for transparency and accountability, as well as follow the policies that apply to all "structured data markup."