Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ:GOOGL) is working hard to combat the proliferation of fake news. With the company’s latest efforts to crack down on fake news and support quality journalism, Google, a unit of Alphabet recently announced new measures termed as Google News Initiative (GNI).
The company plans to spend $300 million over three years on different projects to support its new initiatives. Its GNI is focused toward strengthening reliable and quality journalism, supporting new organizations, and empowering credible news through technological innovation.
Mr. Philipp Schindler, Google’s chief business officer and senior vice-president, said “The GNI is aimed at curbing online misinformation and disinformation, detecting “synthetic media” – like digitally altered photographs – and supporting information literacy programmes to “build a stronger future for journalism.”
Notably, Alphabet’s shares have returned 22.4% in a year’s time, outperforming the industry’s growth of 11.1%.
Google’s Steps to Curb Spreading of Fake News
The company has added many new features on Google platforms to combat fake news. In addition, Google has tweaked its algorithms to highlight relevant content from trustworthy sources during elections and support credible publishers of news.
Earning money at the same time is also equally important. To increase its top-line numbers, Google has launched a feature called Subscribe with Google. This will allow users to easily subscribe to various news outlets, helping publishers to engage readers across Google.
Google has also kept in mind the needs of the students. It has teamed up with the Poynter Institute, Stanford University and Local Media Association to launch MediaWise, a U.S. project. This project is designed to improve digital information literacy among young consumers.
For the news organizations, Google unveiled an open-source tool called Outline that will allow them to set up their own virtual private network (VPN) on a private server. This would protect their systems from DDOS (distributed denial of service) attacks and provide their journalists more secure access to the Internet.
Other Companies Working for the Same Cause
Twitter has been taking a lot of initiatives to curb content that promotes violence, hatred and harassment on the platform. Last December, the company announced a bold step to permanently suspend accounts that promote violence or engage in derogatory and hateful remarks. The company warned that images promoting abhorrence on the basis of race, caste and creed, disability or sexual orientation will also be removed from the platform.
In addition, Twitter has also updated its account verification policy and removed the authentication status of some of its users.
Coming to Facebook, the company has suffered a heavy blow when it was accused of suppressing conservative news and doing a little regarding the spread of fake news on its platform. The company has been taking necessary steps to counter fake news by making a few changes in algorithm, and blocking accounts and pages that it suspects to be spreading misleading information. Last year, Facebook also unveiled an educational tool to help users spot fake news.
Moreover, Twitter, Facebook, Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) and Alphabet have collaborated to form Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism (GIFCT) for curbing extremist activities.
As the technology giants take necessary measures to counter fake news, users will be able to spend quality time on their platforms. New algorithms, changes and updation in some policies, user guidelines, and continuous checks will definitely help to expel objectionable content.
However, it is foolish to believe that the entire misleading content and fake news can be removed. But yes, these necessary and preventive steps to stop users from posting such fake content will one day make these platforms worthy of time.
We, like many other analysts, know that excess expenditure on these projects could take a toll on their profit numbers, impacting their bottom line.
But these spending have now become very important and cannot be avoided any longer. The search giant, along with Facebook and Twitter has been criticized a lot in the recent times. To maintain their integrity and regain the trust of its users, the companies are left with no other option than trying their best to fight these fake stories.
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