In the wake of Donald Trump’s US general election win, fake news has become something of a hot topic.
Many pundits and commentators have opined that the massive amounts of disinformation spread through social media feeds contributed to Trump winning the White House.
They say that since Facebook, Twitter and even the curated searches on Google have the potential to turn into echo-chambers, fake news, when not verified, can have a damaging effect. The fact that “The Don” himself repeated fake news on the campaign trail on a regular basis – and seemed wholly unconcerned when news anchors pointed out that his assertions were wrong – seems to back up this idea.
Perhaps this is what has prompted Facebook and Google to announce that they’re going to block fake news sites from generating revenue through their ad-selling services.
Google’s parent company, Alphabet, announced late on Monday that its new policy would block its advertising tools from websites that “misrepresent, misstate, or conceal information about the publisher, the publisher’s content, or the primary purpose”.
“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,” Google’s Andrea Faville said in a statement.
In spite of Mark Zuckerberg’s dismissal of the idea that fake news on Facebook contributed to Trump winning the election, the social media platform has followed Google’s lead, issuing an all out ban on fake news sites use of its Audience Network adverts.
“While implied, we have updated the policy to explicitly clarify that this applies to fake news,” a Facebook spokesperson told the Wall Street Journal.
“We vigorously enforce our policies and take swift action against sites and apps that are found to be in violation. Our team will continue to closely vet all prospective publishers and monitor existing ones to ensure compliance.”
While these measures won’t likely halt the spread of fake news – neither company has banned sites of this type from its platform altogether – it’s likely no one will be making any more money by spreading rubbish masquerading as fact.
Baby steps, people, baby steps…