Given what is happening in the U.S. election campaign, there has never been a more crucial time for fact-checking of news stories, and Facebook seems to be doing a fairly poor job of it. Now Google has waded into the fray with a new fact-checking tag for Google News.
As Google’s head of news, Richard Gingras, explained in a blog post this week, the Internet giant (GOOGL) is going to be highlighting pages in Google News that fit the criteria for fact-checking.
For some time now, Google has had a series of sub-categories that it groups articles into, including “highly cited”—which is the rough equivalent of Facebook’s Trending Topics—meaning it has been linked to a lot by prominent sites, as well as “local source.”
Now there will be a “fact check” tag as well. Sites that want their articles to be eligible just have to add a certain kind of formatting to their pages, as specified by Schema.org, an open community sponsored by Google, Microsoft (MSFT), and other tech companies.
Bill Adair, the founder of Politifact, one of the earliest fact-checking sites on the web, applauded the effort in a post on Twitter (TWTR), calling it a “huge step for fact-checking.”
Facebook (FB) has had an ongoing issue with fake news articles showing up in its Trending Topics section, as the Washington Post recently highlighted. A survey of the site’s topics showed that hoaxes and fakes routinely show up in the section.
At one point, Facebook used human editors to filter out fakes and make sure the trending topics were actually newsworthy, but the site got rid of its editorial staff after a recent controversy over allegations of bias. The section is now curated by algorithms.
Google said the new feature will be rolled out first in the United States and the United Kingdom, available both on the web and through the site’s news apps.