Donald Trump Victory Leads to Google Cutting Off Fake News Sites
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Donald Trump’s shocking US presidential victory has sparked a ton of debate regarding how major websites could have contributed to the election result, with social networks such as Facebook being involved in discussions concerning whether or not their filtering of news stories may have had an impact upon voters. Now Google is actively looking to punish sites that peddle fake news, pulling their ad support from them and therefore cutting off their source of revenue.
This news comes just days after Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg downplayed the social network’s influence on the election, saying that accusations that dubious news stories may have unfairly swayed voters’ opinions were not feasible, as less than 1% of news content published on the site is fake. But Google is now looking to make this number even lower, with the search engine giant revealing that it will no longer allow its advertising tools to be used by fake news sites.
In a statement given to Reuters, a Google spokesperson said: “Moving forward, we will restrict ad serving on pages that misrepresent, misstate, or conceal information about the publisher, the publisher’s content, or the primary purpose of the web property.” While Google will not be prohibiting these posts from appearing in search results, banning sites hosting them from receiving ad revenue means that they will no longer be able to generate revenue, thus rendering them useless.
Google’s decision comes amid a storm of controversy pertaining to the internet’s influence upon the election. The weekend following the results, a news post wrongly asserting that Trump won the popular vote — he was actually bested by Hillary Clinton in this regard, with him instead winning the electoral college — reached the front page of search results for “final electoral count.” During the election, a fake news post stating that the Pope had declared his support for Trump was also shared on Facebook millions of times.
The Google AdSense program already doesn’t support sites that contain violent imagery and videos, pornography and hate speech, but this new development could prove to be more difficult to implement given the vast number of satirical news sites currently available. It remains to be seen how Google will correctly assess which outlets are peddling fake news and which are providing satirical articles, but hopefully this is a step in the right direction of ridding the internet of falsified reports intended to unjustly sway public opinion.