Today, the European Commission published a Code of Practice on Disinformation in Europe — a code we helped create. The Code is the next step in the work we’re already doing with experts and publishers worldwide to elevate quality information online and support news literacy.
Today, people have more information at their fingertips than ever before, and a free and open web is a vital resource for web users and businesses the world over. But some seek to exploit the web’s freedoms for harm, including by spreading disinformation—verifiably false information deliberately intended to deceive. Here are five ways we’re investing globally to connect people to quality information online:
1. Improving Search to connect people to quality information
People expect to get great results in Search, and we fail in our mission if we surface poor quality or misleading results. We’re constantly evolving our approach to get people to the best and most useful results and over the years, we’ve invested significantly in protections against spam, bots, and other attempts to game our search results. In 2017, we announced that we’d made improvements to our evaluation methods and algorithmic updates to surface more authoritative content. Every year we make thousands of improvements to Search to improve the quality of results for the wide range of queries Google sees every day. In 2017, we ran more than 270,000 experiments, with trained external Search Quality Evaluators and live user tests, resulting in more than 2,400 improvements to Search. To better deal with inappropriate Autocomplete predictions, we launched a feedback tool last year to inform improvements to our systems. We also updated our Autocomplete policies to prevent poor or offensive predictions.
2. Cutting the flow of money to scammers and misrepresentative websites
In recent years we’ve seen a rise in scammers trying to take advantage of the growing popularity of online news to make money. So we prohibit websites in our ad network from serving ads on misrepresentative content. Essentially this means that you can’t serve ads if you’re pretending to be a legitimate news website based in London when you’re actually a content scammer in a different city. By cutting off the flow of money to this kind of activity, we hope to remove the incentive to create it.
3. Supporting the future of journalism with the Google News Initiative
High-quality reporting by journalists and news organizations is crucial in the fight against disinformation. We’re committed to helping publishers grow their traffic, their audience, their subscriptions and their revenue for the long haul—last year, we paid $12.6 billion to publisher partners and drove 10 billion clicks a month to publishers’ websites for free. In 2015, to sustain innovation in digital journalism, we created the Digital News Initiative (DNI) with a €150million fund. We’ve built products in partnership with publishers to directly address challenges faced by the news industry, from the open-source Accelerated Mobile Pages to optimize content for the mobile web to Subscribe with Google and Player for Publishers, which make it easier for publishers to host and monetize their content. And most recently we launched the global Google News Initiative to help journalism thrive in the digital age, with a commitment of $300 million over the next three years. We believe this will help strengthen quality journalism, evolve business models to drive sustainable growth, and empower news organizations through technological innovation.
4. “Fact-check” labels in Google News and Search
We introduced fact-check labels to Google News and Google Search results to let publishers highlight fact-checked content and help people find and more easily consult articles that provide a critical outlook on claims made by others. Beyond its value to users, this feature helps support the work of the fact-checking community—a fast-growing field, with more than 150 organizations trying to tackle accuracy in the media as well as traditional publishers engaging in fact-checking work.
5. Funding innovation and research into disinformation
Newsrooms, researchers and civil society are also working to tackle this issue. To help these organizations, we’ve funded research; we’re partnering in industry initiatives like First Draft and Cross Check that help newsrooms fight misinformation; and we’re working with newsrooms and other platforms on standards for online credibility through the Trust Project.
We’re clear on our ultimate goal—to get people access to useful and relevant information from authoritative sources. We’ll keep working with partners around the world to make it happen.