Over the past few years, search engine giants and social media networks have faced increased scrutiny on the way they handle misleading and inaccurate information on their platform. Google has taken these warnings more seriously than others, and they have much to show for three years of fighting misinformation online. Here are some of the highlights that Google showed how the company continues to fight online misinformation.
Tackling fake news is an issue that will take Google many years to figure out entirely. Google’s highlights are partially there to act as a counterpoint for a negative article out of Standford that suggests Bing is far behind in protecting people from fake news online.
According to the report, “Bing returns disinformation and misinformation at a significantly higher rate than Google does. Across the top 50 results for 12 separate queries (a total of 600 results), Bing returned at least 125 sources of disinformation and misinformation, while Google returned 13.”
The Standford report hits Bing for its lack of effort in preventing misinformation from spreading. The report also noticed Bing directs users to conspiracy-related content, even if they aren’t explicitly looking for it. Bing shows users Russian propaganda at a much higher rate than Google does. Bing places student-essay sites—sites where students post or sell past papers — in its top 50 results for certain queries. Bing dredges up gratuitous white-supremacist content in response to unrelated queries. Users can find the complete findings and methodology are documented here.
Fact checks now appear in search results over 11 million times a day, which includes global search results and Google News in five countries. That means these links are seen by roughly 4 billion impressions per year. Displaying fact check labels is made possible with ClaimReview markup; a special type of schema markup that allows fact-checkers to identify whether claims made on a website are true or not.
There are other ways to use the fact check schema markup to help searchers find the truth. All of the fact-checked claims are available in a publicly available search tool, which lets you search through a database of over 40,000 fact checks.
Given the problems with Bing, it’s easy to see why Google wanted to highlight it’s efforts to fight fake news and misinformation. The fact-checking schema can do a lot to hide questionable information from the public.
Looking to the future, Google will deploy these tools in other ways. The company stated, “The information generated by these efforts might provide valuable context for people as they use Google products—for instance, we could surface the origin of a miscaptioned image or background on the creator of a manipulated video. In 2020, we’ll continue our work to provide users with useful context about the content they access online and offline.”
Check out this article for more news about protecting people from misinformation online.