The 2016 U.S. Presidential election cycle won’t be soon forgotten. It shattered old conventions and introduced a completely new way of running a campaign, including fake news. No doubt some of that content was generated for political purposes. But, for better worse, some fake news was created simply for profit.
For social media giants Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) and Google (NASDAQ:GOOGL), this new trend represents a challenge that can greatly affect the monetization of their platforms. If the billions of consumers and businesses that use these two brands can’t rely on the information they are accessing, advertisers may drop support for these channels. On the other hand, could small content creators face backlash whether their content is truly fake news or simply viewed that way by these digital behemoths?
Facebook and Google Will Crack Down on Fake News
Facebook has just announced a new initiative to identify authentic content because, as the company puts it, stories that are authentic resonate more with its community.
During the election, the social media giant was criticized for doing very little to combat fake news. Instead, Facebook tried to outsource the task of identifying this content to third parties including five fact checking organizations: the Associated Press, ABC news, Factcheck.org, Snopes and PolitiFact.
However, the new update ranks authentic content by incorporating new signals to better identify what is true or false. These signals are delivered in real-time when a post is relevant to a particular user. The signals are determined by analyzing overall engagement on pages to identify spam as well as posts that specifically ask for likes, comments or shares — since these might indicate an effort to spread questionable content.
As for Google, the tech company released its 2017 Bad Ads report. Google says the report plays an important role in making sure users have access to accurate and quality information online. Still, the report addresses only ads thus far. Google warns more broadly that the sustainability of the web could be threatened if users cannot rely on the information they find there.
Fake News Photo via Shutterstock