Alphabet-owned Google and Facebook are reportedly clamping down on “fake news sites” by barring them from using their respective ad networks, thus cutting such sites off from a crucial line of revenue, in a sign that both companies are seriously heeding complaints over their role in the spread of misinformation.
The Wall Street Journal broke the news in separate reports; first of all reporting that Google was to update the terms and conditions of its ad network AdSense, to prohibit sites that “misrepresent, misstate, or conceal information”. While this means that such content will not be excluded from Google’s organic search results, it is likely to curb the ability of such publishers to generate revenue from advertising.
News of Google’s AdSense update was then followed with the confirmation that Facebook was set to follow suit by banning such publishers from using its own Facebook Audience Network.
“While implied, 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,” read a Facebook statement sent to The Wall Street Journal.
The spread of “fake news” became a particular bone of contention during this year’s US presidential election, particularly in the wake of the widely unexpected victory of president-elect Donald Trump, with both Google and Facebook coming under fire for furthering the spread of inaccurate information.
Such criticism prompted Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to respond publicly with a post on his own Facebook page (see below). It read: “Of all the content on Facebook, more than 99% of what people see is authentic. Only a very small amount is fake news and hoaxes. The hoaxes that do exist are not limited to one partisan view, or even to politics ... We have already launched work enabling our community to flag hoaxes and fake news, and there is more we can do here ... we will continue to work on this to improve further.”