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Google, Facebook will not place ads on sites distributing fake news

(Image: Ben Nuttall/flickr)

15 November 2016

Google plans to update its AdSense program policies to prevent placement of its ads on sites distributing fake news.

Facebook also said Monday it had updated the policy for its Audience Network, which places ads on websites and mobile apps, to explicitly clarify that it applies to fake news.

“In accordance with the Audience Network Policy, 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. The company said its team will continue to closely vet all prospective publishers and monitor existing ones to ensure compliance.

False news stories have become a sore point after the US presidential elections with critics blaming Internet companies like Twitter and Facebook for having had an influence on the outcome as a result of the fake content.

The controversy also reflects concerns about the growing power of social networks to influence people and events, as well as help people to communicate and organise. Facebook promotes democracy by letting candidates communicate directly with people, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said recently in an interview.

Google had its own embarrassing moments on Sunday with a false story that claimed that President-elect Donald Trump had won the popular vote in the US presidential elections figuring atop some Google search results. According to Politifact Trump’s Democratic rival Hillary Clinton is leading the popular vote.

“We’ve been working on an update to our publisher policies and will start prohibiting Google ads from being placed on misrepresentative content, just as we disallow misrepresentation in our ads policies,” Google said Monday in a statement. “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 evidently expects that the threat of a cut in revenue from ads will dissuade sites from publishing fake content.

Zuckerberg has described as “crazy” the criticism that fake news on Facebook’s news feed had influenced the vote in favor of Trump. “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,” Zuckerberg said in a post over the weekend. The hoaxes are not limited to one partisan view, or even to politics, he added.

IDG News Service

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