Facebook and Google to block ads on fake news websites

Arvind Hickman
By Arvind Hickman | 16 November 2016

Digital media giants Facebook and Google are taking steps to prevent the proliferation of fake news in the wake of criticism misinformation played a role in handing Donald Trump the US election.

Facebook has said it won't integrate or display ads in apps of websites that are illegal or deceptive.

Google will prevent websites running fake ads from using AdSense for publishers, which is the market leading program to serve web display ads.

Although this wouldn't prevent fake news from appearing on websites it is designed to starve webmasters from a primary revenue source.

“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,” Andrea Faville, a Google spokeswoman, wrote in a statement.

Over the weekend, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg claimed that “more than 99%” of the information served on Facebook was either authentic or someone's opinion rather than misleading news. The post received more than 11,000 comments, many of which questioned Zuckerberg's optimism.

Although it is already possible for users to flag hoaxes, Facebook's algorithm has been criticised for curating content that largely reflects what individuals and their friends think rather than a balanced view of the world.

This can result in an echo chamber effect that polarises information and opinions among like-minded people.
Facebook used to have human editors that could discern the credibility of content but ditched these for an automated machine learning approach.

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