Google and Facebook are blocking fake news sites from their ad networks – but that’s not enough

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Following the conclusion of the US presidential elections which saw Donald Trump emerge victorious, there’s been a lot of talk about how social networks and fake news contributed to the outcome.

To that end, Google and Facebook have both announced that they will ban fake news sites from using their ad networks, thereby cutting off those outlets’ major revenue streams.

The new comes after Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg refuted claims of fake news on the social network influencing the results of the election, stating that “more than 99 percent of what people see is authentic.”

Even if we take Zuckerberg at his word, it’s possible that stories from those sites may have been targeted towards voters for greater impact. Plus, 1 percent of all content circulated on Facebook still amounts to a ton of misinformation.

It isn’t yet clear if the move will help stem the flow of fake news across the Web. Neither company has committed to improving their methods for detecting and blocking such content.

However, Gizmodo reported that its sources informed it of a Facebook update that aimed to identify and remove hoax news stories. The feature is believed to have been shelved as it disproportionately impacted right-wing news sites.

Earlier this month, BuzzFeed News found that several teens and young adults in Macedonia were running sites with that published fake news stories deriding Hillary Clinton, purely as a means to make money from ad revenue. It’s possible that Google and Facebook’s move to block such sites from their ad networks will curb their growth, but they’re not the only ones running such businesses.

Hopefully, tech firms and media platforms will be able to figure out more sophisticated ways of sniffing out bogus content. Whether they want to admit it or not in these difficult times, search engines and social networks are major destinations for people looking for news, and that means working to create an environment where hoaxes are easier to stamp out than it is to circulate actual facts. It’s not going to be easy, but that’s all part of the job.

Google moves to restrict ads on fake news sites on Reuters

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