Google has announced that it plans to penalise sites disseminating fake or misleading news stories by blocking their access to its AdWords advertising platform, should they fail to properly mark their content as satirical or otherwise hide their aims.
Following media reports that the outcome of the recent US presidential election may have been influenced, in whatever small way, by false stories published on out-of-the-way websites yet given undue prominence in news-gathering services like Facebook's feed and Google News, Google has confirmed plans to cut sites publishing fake news off from its AdWords advertising platform. According to a statement issued to newswire agency Reuters
by Google parent company Alphabet, the move would affect only sites which 'misrepresent, misstate, or conceal information about the publisher, the publisher's content, or the primary purpose of the web property.
Under those terms, sites which offer up satirical content, such as well-known lampoon The Onion, would still have access to the AdWords platform so long as their content is clearly marked as satire. Sites which aim to influence public opinion by masking opinion editorial or outright fictitious 'news' as the real deal, however, will find themselves cut off from a major source of funding.
The move comes following an embarrassment for the company in which a false story regarding Donald Trump winning the popular vote in the US presidential election was placed at the top of the Google News results stream; in fact, rival Hillary Clinton walked away with tens of thousands more popular votes, but lost the presidency to electoral votes.