Google announced that its advertising tools will soon be closed to websites that promote fake news, a policy that could cut off revenue streams for publications that circulates hoaxes on platforms like Facebook. The decision comes at a critical time for the tech industry, whose key players have come under surveillance for not taking necessary steps to prevent fake news from circulating across the web during the 2016 US election. It’s thought that, given the viral aspects of fake news, social networks and search engines were gamed by a particular side bad actors intending to influence the outcome of the result.
“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,” a Google spokesperson said in a statement given to Retuers. This policy includes fake news sites, the spokesperson confirmed. Google already prevents its AdSense program from being used by sites that promote violent videos and imagery, pornography, and hate speech.
The issue of fake news on social media grabbed national attention earlier this summer, when Gizmodo reported that the team at Facebook responsible for its Trending Topics news list was suppressing links from conservative sources. The controversy called into question Facebook’s role as a primary source of news for tens of millions of Americans. The episode reportedly “paralysed” Facebook, according to a recent report from The New York Times, leaving its leadership unwilling to make any drastic changes to the News Feed to curb the viral growth of fake news.