The 2016 US election has contributed to an unstable America; people ripped at the seams over obviously polarizing issues. At the center of all the controversy, though, the media has reveled in the shouting and the threats; easy pickings for headlines.
But that is not to say that all news—particularly news relating to this incredibly heated season—has been legitimate. As a matter of fact, two of the world’s biggest internet companies continue to face mounting criticism over the number of fake news sites posting stories to popular web destinations like Google and Facebook. Thus, on Monday, these two companies (in particular) have responded to the criticisms, clarifying their policies will not tolerate such misinformation.
And how are they planning to put an end to this type of behavior?
Well, for one, Google said that it will ban websites that promote or produce fake news from the ability to use its proprietary online advertising service (Google AdWords). Merely a few hours later, on Monday, massive social media network Facebook followed suit with an update to its ad policy. Though the social network said it already prohibits ads in sites that display misleading or illegal content (including fake news sites) but they have updated the language.
A spokesperson from Facebook reported: “We have updated the policy to explicitly clarify that this applies to fake news. Our team will continue to closely vet all prospective publishers and monitor existing ones to ensure compliance.”
Facebook, of course, has been more at the center of this debate, with accusations from various commentators arguing that the service’s misleading ads may have swung some voters to favor now President-elect Donald Trump specifically through misleading—or even overtly wrong—stories that quickly spread through the internet.
One of these stories even claimed that Pope Francis openly endorsed Donald Trump.
Google spokeswoman, Andrea Faville, comments, “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.”
Obviously this is an issue that is probably not going to go away quite that easily. Facebook and Google, of course, are massive online destinations that draw billions of visitors every day. That makes them prime objectives for advertisers (and they are more than happy to rake in the billions of dollars they make from ad revenue). As such, advocates for internet authenticity now argue that if these two largest entities on the web have a fake news problem then it could be pretty safe to say that the internet, as a whole, has a fake news problem.