Google, ramping up the crackdown on fake news, has banned 200 publishers from one of the company's advertising networks over the last two months of 2016.
In its Bad Ads report for 2016, Google also revealed that it took down 1.7 billion advertisements last year for various violations.
Google Bans Publishers For Fake News
In response to the growing controversy of fake news found online, Google kicked out 200 publishers permanently from its AdSense network in November and December of last year. AdSense is an ad placement service that automatically displays advertisements on participating websites based on the audience that visit them. The ban was enforced by Google as part of a company update on existing policies that prohibit AdSense participation by websites that provide misleading information to users, though not all the banned publishers were related to fake news.
Google has already been booting out advertisers for providing false or misleading information, but the impersonation of legitimate news websites was added following the propagation of fake news. Some of these impersonating websites are designed to look like their legitimate counterparts, but with a ".co" domain instead of a ".com" domain.
The announcement of the banning of 200 publishers over the last two months of 2016 is part of Google's Bad Ads report for last year, though Google has refused to provide a list of the websites that were taken down in the move. A total of 550 websites were reviewed with the policy changes that Google implemented, with the 200 aforementioned websites receiving permanent bans and another 140 websites receiving a temporary ban.
Google Bad Ads Report 2016
Looking at the bigger picture, Google has also been cracking down on bad advertisements, a problem that has become even worse as fake news websites are trying to raise revenues through user clicks on these bad ads.
In Google's Bad Ads report for 2016, the company revealed that it took down over 1.7 billion ads last year, which is more than double the 780 million bad ads that Google removed in 2015. With Google making 90 percent of its revenues from advertising, the company has a good reason for maintaining the integrity of its advertising network. The ads that were taken down include those for gambling websites, illegal products, and payday loans, which Google prohibited beginning May 2016,
According to Google, it saw an increase last year of so-called "tabloid cloakers," which are advertisers that design their ads to resemble headlines on legitimate websites, usually covering a timely topic such as the United States presidential election.
The Fight Against Fake News
Google is not the only tech company that has been scrutinized for allegedly aiding the propagation of fake news, leading it to review its policies and implement measures against misinformation.
Facebook has also been involved in the controversy, though CEO Mark Zuckerberg has mentioned that the idea that the "very small amount" of fake news on the social network affected the outcome of the United States presidential election is a "pretty crazy idea." Nevertheless, Facebook has started initiatives against fake news on its platform, with the testing of tools to fight fake news starting in Germany.