Srinagar: After mounting criticism over fake news circulated on two of the world’s biggest internet companies – Google and Facebook – that may have influenced the presidential election’s outcome, the duo have decided to come hard on websites circulating “misrepresented facts and illegal content”, The New York Times reported on Monday.
“Google kicked off the action on Monday afternoon when the Silicon Valley search giant said it would ban websites that peddle fake news from using its online advertising service. Hours later, Facebook, the social network, updated the language in its Facebook Audience Network policy, which already says it will not display ads in sites that show misleading or illegal content, to include fake news sites,” the report added.
Facebook has been at the epicenter of that debate, accused by some commentators of swinging some voters in favour of President-elect Donald J. Trump through misleading and outright wrong stories that spread quickly via the social network. One such false story claimed that Pope Francis had endorsed Trump, the report said.
Even a Pakistani news channel claimed that Trump was born and brought up in Waziristan. The channel also claimed that the new president of the US was born in 1946 and was called Dawood Ibrahim Khan before his parents died and he was adopted by Americans. This story was also widely shared and viewed on Google and Facebook.
“Google did not escape the glare, with critics saying the company gave too much prominence to false news stories. On Sunday, the site Mediate reported that the top result on a Google search for “final election vote count 2016” was a link to a story on a website called 70News that wrongly stated that Mr. Trump, who won the Electoral College, was ahead of his Democratic challenger, Hillary Clinton, in the popular vote,” the report added.
“It remains to be seen how effective Google’s new policy on fake news will be in practice. The policy will rely on a combination of automated and human reviews to help determine what is fake. Although satire sites like The Onion are not the target of the policy, it is not clear whether some of them, which often run fake news stories written for humorous effect, will be inadvertently affected by Google’s change.”