One of the disadvantages of the internet is the proliferation of fake news websites that pry on the gullible. To counter this, Google and social media giant, Facebook plan to change their advertising policies to prevent the placement of ads on websites posting fake and questionable news.
Last Monday, Facebook announced that it had updated the policy for its Audience Network, which places ads on websites and mobile apps, to explicitly clarify that it applies to fake news.
In a statement, Facebook announced that: “In accordance with the Audience Network Policy, we do not integrate or display ads in apps or sites containing content that is illegal, misleading or deceptive, which includes fake news,” The company said its team and offshore back office solutions will continue to strictly look into prospective publishers and monitor existing ones and make sure that they comply with the procedures.
False news stories is now being blamed for its aftermath in the U.S. presidential elections with critics naming social media websites like Twitter and Facebook for having a significant influence on the results of the elections due to false content.
This issue also reflects netizen concerns about the growing power of social networks to influence people and events, as well as help people to communicate. Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg said in an interview that Facebook “promotes democracy” by letting candidates communicate directly with people.
On the other side of the internet spectrum, Google had its own share of cringe worthy moments on Sunday with a false article that claimed that President-elect Donald Trump had won the popular vote in the U.S. presidential elections figuring atop some Google search results. However, in reality, Trump’s Democratic nemesis Hillary Clinton is leads the popular vote.
“We’ve been working on an update to our publisher policies and our back office outsourcing solutions will start prohibiting Google ads from being placed on misrepresentative content, just as we disallow misrepresentation in our ads policies,” according to an announcement by Google. “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.”
Google evidently expects that cutting of revenue from ads will discourage sites from publishing fake information.
However, Mark Zuckerberg mentioned that the criticism that fake news on Facebook’s news feed had influenced the vote in favor of Trump is “crazy”. “Of all the content on Facebook, more than 99% of what people see is authentic. Only a very small amount is fake news and hoaxes,” Zuckerberg said in his post last week. “The hoaxes are not limited to one partisan view, or even to politics,” the Facebook head honcho added.
Identifying what is authentic or real content in the internet is starting to be complicated. While some hoaxes can be clearly identified, a huge number of content, including from mainstream sources, often gets the basic idea right but some of the content become blurred or distorted, or expresses a view that some people will disagree with and flag as incorrect even when it is factual, Zuckerberg further added.
However, concerns rise that the monitoring of websites and social media for fake news might give internet companies more power and raised more than a few eyebrows considering the fact that Google and Facebook will have the authority to claim and determine what is real or what is not.