Google has added a new fact check feature within its News products, allowing users to separate fact from fiction on trending stories.
The tag will be shown within expanded story boxes, as in the example below:
The timing is telling, with the US presidential election just a few weeks away now. Nonetheless, it is certainly possible that this will be applied beyond the realm of politics in the near future.
How can publishers gain these tags?
Google has a two-step process for deciding which pages are worthy of the fact check label.
The first is the implementation of the ClaimReview schema. Only pages that claim to contain fact-check content within the article title will be assessed, with the ClaimReview schema then adding specificity to that claim by highlighting the content in question.
From here, sites must be able to prove that they have followed a rigorous fact check process, clearly citing their sources and ensuring that these are taken from reputable, trustworthy institutions.
Could Google be accused of bias?
Google is clearly aiming to evade such accusations, with the burden of proof lying with publishers. Publishers who do not meet the required criteria or who manipulate the system will be removed from Google News.
Implementing a set of objective procedures should prove effective, although it is worth remembering the fallibility of algorithms – notably the 9/11 hoax story that topped Facebook’s Trending Topics recently.
However, given that the popular and the factual are not always directly linked (often the opposite, in fact), this is at least a positive step by Google to introduce some rigor to an arena of constant information and misinformation.
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