The spread of "fake news" isn't just a problem for social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter - it's something search engines struggle with too. As you can imagine, Google is certainly no exception to this trend given their position as one of the most popular search engines around today. Indeed, following the Las Vegas shooting, Google mistakenly promoted stories in their news feed which offered heavily skewed or false versions of the tragedy's events.
Though the search giant has already made several strong attempts to combat the spread of these sorts of stories, they aren't resting on their laurels. "It’s becoming increasingly difficult to distinguish what’s true (and not true) online. Business models for journalism continue to change drastically," Google CBO Philip Schindler said in a blog post today. "The rapid evolution of technology is challenging all institutions, including the news industry—to keep pace. We need to do more."
In the blog post, Google announced their new "Google News Initiative" (GNI), a project devoted to curbing the spread of misinformation online by "[elevating and strengthening] quality journalism," "[evolving] business models to drive sustainable growth" and "[empowering] news organizations" through technological innovation.
This three-pronged approach to combating fake news will see Google invest "over $300 million" into the GNI over the next three years. This money will be used for several purposes but perhaps most importantly, it will be used to "[work] directly with news organizations" to combat misinformation through the "First Draft" program.
For the unaware, First Draft is a website that offers journalists information, guides and free online courses to help them spot and avoid spreading fake news stories.
That said, Google understands the spread of fake news is not entirely the fault of publishers. To address the issue on the user side, the company will be working with reputable educational organizations such as Stanford University and the Poynter Institute to launch "MediaWise," a program designed to "improve digital information literacy" for young consumers.
It's certainly nice to see a company as large as Google take additional steps to fight misinformation online but only time will tell if their latest efforts will be enough to accomplish that goal.