New tools are being created to uncover fake news in an effort to help those seeking fact-based reports. Unsavory news has invaded the computer age, by occupying search engines and sending those looking for the truth to disreputable fake-news sources.
Bogus news is not new. It was once a standard to entice people, with stories of bigfoot and aliens from outer space, to purchase certain newspapers at checkout lines. With President Donald Trump claiming he is being attacked by the media, that is publishing fake news on a regular basis, the term has become a new norm.
New Tools Aim to Weed Out Fake News
Many well-known sites like Politifact and Snopes, as well as those lesser-known, have become popular among readers seeking to discover what is true, as opposed to reported fake news. These sites not only provide search engines to research stories, but many are developing tools and extensions that aid those searching to discover the facts.
The Unofficial Instant Snopes Checker extension for Google Chrome is the perfect example of a tool ready to help searchers weed out fake news. Developers of extensions and apps are seeking ways to help users in the quest to detect fake news when seeking the truth about a story. Google has taken on fake news in full force by adjusting how its search engine works.
The company is implementing specific changes to allow people to be proactive in fact checking when searching content. Google is viewed as the major search go-to site, accounting for 77 percent of the market for international search engines. Technology is ever changing and updating. Google constantly works to improve the quality of its search engine every year by making changes to computer code.
Updated Google Search Tool Thwarts Fake News
Google is now doing more than just updating code. The famed search engine company is giving humans a new tool to help tackle fake news. Humans will now be part of the equation, along with the computer algorithms that Google uses, to distinguish between trustworthy sources and objectionable content.
As before, a user placing wording in the search box sees autocomplete results pop up. Now, if questionable results appear, the user can flag it as offensive for review by Google engineers. The user feedback will allow engineers to develop ways to prevent incredulous autocomplete search responses that can lead to fake news.
Google has conveyed that people using the search engine have reported a bigger incidence of more offensive material coming up during searches. In October 2016, users complained about fake news, noticing the engine would autocomplete a search phrase, “are Jews,” with the word “evil.”
Ben Gomes, VP of Engineering for Google, acknowledged the problem in a blog post:
It’s become very apparent that a small set of queries in our daily traffic (around 0.25 percent), have been returning offensive or clearly misleading content.
New Fact-check Tool Tackles Fake News
To combat any fake news that may pop up in real news searches, Google is giving users a new fact-checking ability. Searched stories, that may be questionable, will have a link to a reputable fact-checking site, such as Politifact.
The company is using 115 fact-checking organizations to assist in its efforts to combat fake news. Since Google is not assessing facts itself, searches for the same topic could reveal different fact-checking results. It is the hope that readers will use the multiple sources to make reasonable determinations regarding fact checking and what is fake news versus real news.
As Trump continues his claims of being attacked with fake news, fact-checking sites have been working hard to report the truth. When a user is perusing through a Google News section that has been fact checked, a tag will be seen to a link for the user to read and verify the facts. This allows for users to decipher what would be considered fake news, as opposed to a trustworthy report.
The fact-check tag joins other Google tags to links that help users stay as informed as possible. Users can delve deeper into a story with links to opinion, in-depth, most referenced, and highly cited pieces. Efforts to battle any onslaught of fake news are being taken seriously. Google and others are working to develop tools to ensure that what a person reads is not fake news, and to allow for the truth to prevail.
By Carol Ruth Weber
Edited by Tracy Blake and Cathy Milne
The Telegraph: Google overhauls search algorithm in bid to fight fake news
Tech Crunch: Google tweaks Search to help combat ‘fake news’
The Globe and Mail: Google opts for human touch in fight against fake news
The Christian Science Monitor: Google rolls out new ‘Fact Check’ tool worldwide to combat fake news
Featured and Top Image by Red Sunset Courtesy of Wikipedia – Creative Commons License
Inset Image Screenshot Courtesy of Google News