Alphabet Inc’s Google and Facebook Inc on Monday announced measures aimed at halting the spread of “fake news” on the internet by targeting how some purveyors of phony content make money: advertising.
Google said it is working on a policy change to prevent websites that misrepresent content from using its AdSense advertising network, while Facebook updated its advertising policies to spell out that its ban on deceptive and misleading content applies to fake news.
The shifts comes as Google, Facebook and Twitter Inc face a backlash over the role they played in the US presidential election by allowing the spread of false and often malicious information that might have swayed voters toward Republican candidate Donald Trump.
The issue has provoked a fierce debate within Facebook especially, with Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg insisting twice in recent days that the site had no role in influencing the election.
Facebook’s steps are limited to its ad policies, and do not target fake news sites shared by users on their news feeds.
“We do not integrate or display ads in apps or sites containing content that is illegal, misleading or deceptive, which includes fake news,” Facebook said in a statement, adding that it will continue to vet publishers to ensure compliance.
Google’s move similarly does not address the issue of fake news or hoaxes appearing in Google search results.
That happened in the last few days, when a search for ‘final election count’ for a time took users to a fake news story saying Trump won the popular vote. Votes are still being counted, with Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton showing a slight lead.
Nor does Google suggest that the company has moved to a mechanism for rating the accuracy of particular articles.