Google News could slow search results to tackle fake news, report says


Google News is reportedly considering the idea of slowing search results to tackle bad actors and fight fake news. 

Google News lead Valerie Streit spoke about the idea at a Friday event by the Online News Association, according to two attending journalists on Twitter.  

“Interesting. Google News looking at ways of slowing down real-time information at times of crisis to tackle bad actors,” tweeted Alfred Hermida, a journalist and journalism professor.

“Someone from Google News says they are talking about possibly slowing real-time search results, especially in situations where possibility of manipulating information is high,” tweeted multimedia journalist Doris N. Truong, before replying to note it was Streit who had mentioned this. 

Google has faced mounting criticism for the stories it highlights in searches, particularly during crises. After the Las Vegas shooting in October, for example, a hoax on image-messaging board site 4chan that named the wrong suspect appeared on the first page of Google’s search results. Similarly, a video espousing a conspiracy theory about a survivor of the deadly shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, became the top trending item on YouTube, which is owned by Google. 

The company has worked to try to tackle the issue. In March, it unveiled the Google News Initiative, a global effort in which Google partners with news organizations to highlight the most accurate information possible, particularly in breaking news situations. It also said it was committed to helping publishers create a sustainable revenue source. It’s committing $300 million dollars over the next three years to meet these goals.

Google didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

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