Google is taking its fight against fake news to the next level. The company has announced two new initiatives aimed specifically at supporting journalism and fighting the spread of misinformation on the internet.
The first new effort is called the Google News Initiative, and it’s similar to the company’s Digital News Initiative in Europe. Google has three goals with the Google News Initiative — to highlight journalism while fighting misinformation, to help news sites continue to grow, and to give journalists new tools to do their jobs. How serious is it about these efforts? Well, it has pledged to invest a hefty $300 million into them over the next three years.
In particular, it seems that Google wants to stop the spread of fake news during a breaking news event. The company acknowledges that it can be easy for false information to spread when news outlets are scrambling to get information on an event — only to accidentally publish false information that they may have gotten from bad actors attempting to mislead. To prevent that, Google says that it’s putting a heavier emphasis on authoritative factors, rather than things like freshness. The company will continue to train its system to better recognize content that could be misleading, and demote it in favor of the display of accurate results.
Google says it’s also working with organizations like First Draft to launch “Disinfo Lab,” which is aimed at combatting fake news during elections or when there is breaking news. According to the company’s blog post, Disinfo Lab will employ journalists to “leverage computational tools to monitor misinformation in the run-up to and during elections.”
The company also wants to make it easy to subscribe to your favorite news websites — like The New York Times or The Telegraph — with “Subscribe with Google.” Instead of having to subscribe on the outlet’s website, Google will allow you to subscribe directly from news pages, and payments will be handled through your Google account — so you don’t have to go through the process of subscribing and paying each individual outlet separately. Once subscribed, you’ll be able to see subscription content whenever you’re logged into your Google account. Not only that, but when you subscribe to a publication, Google sees that as an indication that you value and trust that brand’s content — so it will surface those sources in Search.