Google presented a white paper titled “How Google Fights Disinformation” at the Munich Security Conference. The white paper provides details about Google’s work to tackle the spread of misinformation – across Google Search, Google News, YouTube and their advertising systems.
One thing Google is doing is giving users more context. Here is how they do that:
- “Knowledge: or “Information” Panels in Google Search and YouTube, providing high-level facts about a person or issue.
- Making it easier to discover the work of fact-checkers on Google Search or Google News, by using labels or snippets making it clear to users that a specific piece of content is a fact-checking article
- A “Full Coverage” function in Google News enabling users to access a non-personalized, in-depth view of a news cycle at the tap of a finger
- “Breaking News” and “Top News” shelves, and “Developing News” information panels on YouTube, making sure that users are exposed to news content from authoritative sources when looking for information about ongoing news events
- Information panels providing “Topical Context” and “Publisher Content” on YouTube, providing users with contextual information from trusted sources to help them be more informed consumers of content on the platform. These panels provide authoritative information on well-established historical and scientific topics that have often been subject to misinformation online and on the sources of news content, respectively.
- “Why this ad?” labels enabling users to understand why they’re presented with a specific ad and how to change their preferences so as to alter personalization of the ads they are shown, or to opt out of personalized ads altogether
- In-ad disclosures and transparency reports on election advertising, which are rolling out during elections in the US, Europe and India as a starting point
Google is also empowering users to let them know when they are getting it wrong by using feedback buttons across Search, YouTube, and Google’s advertising products to flag content that might be violating Google’s policies.
In addition, Google is partnering with outside experts. Some of those experts include:
- First Draft Coalition (which Google helped launch) – a non-profit that convenes news organizations and technology companies to tackle the challenges around combating disinformation online – especially in the run-up to elections
- Trust Project (which Google is a founding member of) – explores how journalism can signal its trustworthiness online. The Trust Project developed eight indicators of trust that publishers can use to better convey why their content should be seen as credible, with promising results for the publishers who have trialed them.
- Poynter’s International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN) – a non-partisan organization gathering fact-checking organizations from the United States, Germany, Brazil, Argentina, South Africa, India, and more.
In regard to political ads, the white paper says: “Finally, in order to help understand the context for the election-related ads they see online, we require additional verification for advertisers who wish to purchase political ads in the United States, provide transparency about the advertiser to the user, and have established an online transparency report and creative repository on US federal elections.”
There are a lot more details in the white paper than I have posted here. Overall, it appears to be a good start at fighting disinformation across Google’s products. Part of the white paper mentions “deep fakes”, which will likely be difficult to combat. Google is clearly aware of how malicious actors could use it, and seems to be at least attempting to get ahead of that.