Google expands fact checking in news searches

FILE - This Oct. 20, 2015, file photo, shows a sign outside Google headquarters in Mountain View, Calif. Google will start offering "fact check" tags next to some news stories in search results in the tech industry's latest effort to combat false and misleading news stories, on Friday, April 7, 2017. People who search for a topic in the regular search engine or the Google News section will see a conclusion such as"mostly true" or "false" next to news stories that had been fact checked by one of more than 100 organizations, including The Associated Press, PolitiFact and Snopes.com.
Image Credit: AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File

NEW YORK - Google will expand the use of "fact check" tags in its search results — the tech industry's latest effort to combat false and misleading news stories.

People who search for a topic in Google's main search engine or the Google News section will see a conclusion such as "mostly true" or "false" next to stories that have been fact checked.

Google has been working with more than 100 news organizations and fact-checking groups , including The Associated Press, the BBC and NPR. Their conclusions will appear in search results as long as they meet certain formatting criteria for automation.

Google said only a few of those organizations, including PolitiFact and Snopes.com, have already met those requirements; The Washington Post also says it complies. Google said it expects the ranks of compliant organizations to grow following Friday's announcement.

Not all news stories will be fact checked. Multiple organizations may reach different conclusions; Google will show those separately.

Still unanswered is whether these fact-check analyses will sway people who are already prone to believe false reports because they confirm preconceived notions.

Glenn Kessler, who writes "The Fact Checker" column at The Washington Post, said in an email that Google's efforts should at least "make it easier for people around the world to obtain information that counters the spin by politicians and political advocacy groups, as well as purveyors of 'fake news.'"

He added that "over time, I expect that people increasingly will want to read a fact-check on a controversial issue or statement, even if the report conflicts with their political leanings."

Google started offering fact check tags in the U.S. and the U.K. in October and expanded the program to a handful of other countries in the subsequent months. Now the program is open to the rest of the world and to all languages.

False news and misinformation, often masquerading as trustworthy news that spreads on social media, has gained attention since the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Google's announcement comes a day after Facebook launched a resource to help users spot false news and misleading information that spreads on its service. The resource is basically a notification that pops up for a few days. Clicking on it takes people to tips and other information on how to spot false news and what to do about it.


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