Alphabet Inc. (GOOG) subsidiary Google has rolled out a Fact Check feature to combat fake news. If a Google Search query has been checked by a credible source, then it will display a link to that source along with the words "fact check" on its results page. Not all search results will have fact checks.
In its efforts to be seen as fair and impartial, Google will also display competing claims on the same page. "Even though differing conclusions may be presented, we think it's still helpful for people to understand the degree of consensus around a particular claim and have clear information on which sources agree," the company wrote in a blog post on its site, adding that its audience would have "an easier time reviewing and assessing these fact checks, and making their own informed opinion." Publishers can request to be added to Google's search results, and the company will use an algorithm to determine which publishers to add to its list of "authoritative sources of information." (See also: Google and Facebook Take Steps to Combat Fake News.)
Along with Facebook, Inc. (FB), Google was in the eye of a fake news storm after last year's presidential elections. Journalists accused both sites of being a hub for fake news results pertaining to elections. Facebook is said to be using artificial intelligence to weed out fake news from its platform. The company said it would display news publishers and sources in its news feed after several incidents surfaced last year that showed how fake news sites use its network to propagate false information. This is Google's first attempt at tackling the problem through changes to its search algorithm. Last year, the company changed policies for its AdSense platform to ban fake news publishers. (See also: Google Changes Policy to Ban Fake News Sites From AdSense Network.)
However, both companies have stopped short of owning responsibility for information on their platform. In that sense, Google's update today, which displays competing claims without favor, is reflective of that line of thinking. While discussing Facebook's efforts to curtail fake news, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg cautioned that the company should be wary of "becoming arbiters of truth ourselves." (See also: Facebook Is Using AI to Tackle Fake News.)