Google and Facebook roll out new steps to fight fake news, Twitter does not

Fake news played a role in the outcome of Brexit and the US election. It is being used as a propaganda tool throughout Europe and promoters of fake news are attempting to influence the French election specifically. It is also being used in an attempt to influence elections in Africa and was recently blamed for a decline in vaccination rates in Ireland.

Today Google and Facebook both rolled out new measures to fight the spread of fake news, or at least help people to spot it.

Facebook recently deleted 30 thousand fake accounts in an attempt to stop the spread of fake news ahead of the election in France. Today Facebook announced that they are testing the placement of related articles in a unit near an article that is being widely discussed. That means that, for example, if someone shares an article from Breitbart or Occupy Democrats, that articles on the same topic from Snopes, the New York Times, BBC and the Economist may appear in a block just below it.
"Today, we’re beginning to test Related Articles that might appear before you read an article shared in News Feed. These additional articles, which appear for topics many people are talking about on Facebook, will appear in a unit below the link. That should provide people easier access to additional perspectives and information, including articles by third-party fact-checkers."

In an effort to reduce false or misleading information and conspiracy theories, Google also announced several changes today.
"... 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, which is not what people are looking for. To help prevent the spread of such content for this subset of queries, we’ve improved our evaluation methods and made algorithmic updates to surface more authoritative content." 
New measures included changes to the Search Quality Rater Guidelines which are used by human testers to evaluate the quality of search results. They have also announced a new method for reporting Autocomplete predictions and Featured Snippets that are false or inappropriate.

By gaming Google's algorithm purveyors of fake news and conspiracy theories have managed to get their information to the top of some search results, including a case in December when the query “did the Holocaust happen?” returned information from a Holocaust denying white supremacist website.

The new link for reporting bad information is included in the same area where autofill suggestions appear.



Twitter announced in September that it was joining the Google backed First Draft Coalition to improve media literacy among social media users. Since that time though, the company has offered no concrete measures to tackle the problem. As of today, the company's "How to report violations" page doesn't mention fake news at all.
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