Hillary Clinton has personally ordered several assassinations; Donald Trump once referred to Republican voters as “the dumbest…in the country”; and literally everyone is a Russian agent.
FAKE NEWS is everywhere.
The sheer quantity of misinformation on the internet is as evident as the need to do something about it. Luckily Google, along with its sister think-tank Jigsaw, is attempting just that.
Google first started tagging certain bits of content as fact-checked in October last year. Certain news articles earned the “Full Fact” label, helping users quickly judge the trustworthiness of the source at a glance.
At the time, the label only applied to certain articles in Google’s News section, and only in the UK and the US. Now, fact-checking has gone global. It is now available in all countries, in all languages and, importantly, in basic search results.
Here’s a much touted example of the new fact-checking label in action:
Clearly displayed is the main claim in question, its source, and an assessment of it’s truth, along with the name of the publisher who made the assessment.
This last bit is important – Google are making sure to distance themselves from the judgement itself, making it clear that “these fact checks are not Google’s and are presented so people can make more informed judgements.”
HOW IT WORKS
In order for a claim to be shown as verified/falsified, the publisher in question must either use the ClaimReview markup from schema.org, or use the Share the Facts widget, developed by Jigsaw and the Duke Reporter’s Lab.
The ClaimReview markup is included in the appropriate page by its publisher, specifying the relevant details – i.e. a summary of the claim in question, who made it, and, of course, whether or not it is true. Multiple fact-checks can be applied to multiple discrete claims on any one page. In such a case, you’ll see a fact-check carousel on the SERP if using a mobile browser.
(For more on how scheme markup and structured data works, read this article)
More information about the Share the Facts widget can be found here, but here’s what it looks like in action on a page:
And here’s the same page displayed in Google:
WHO FACT CHECKS THE FACT CHECKERS?
Whichever signalling method is chosen, the content in question must adhere to Google’s News Publisher guidelines relating to “standards for accountability and transparency, readability or proper site representation”.
For example: “Analysis must be transparent about sources and methods, with citations and references to primary sources.”
Importantly, “fact checks are not guaranteed to be shown” merely due to their inclusion by the publisher.
Google tells us that “only publishers that are algorithmically determined to be an authoritative source of information will qualify for inclusion”.
Google has remained characteristically opaque with regard to how they actually judge the authoritativeness of a given publisher, beyond explaining that the final decision will be made by the all-powerful algorithm.
WHAT IF THERE’S DISAGREEMENT?
There will be times, Google acknowledges, when the truth of a claim is not a simple matter, and times when there is disagreement over its truth altogether. Even among sources Google […]
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