The fight against so-called “fake news” is an important battle which affects us all. Companies that help us disseminate information — the biggest of which is Google — have a responsibility to figure out ways to curb the spread of false information.
In a new white paper on the matter, Google lays out in clear detail what it is doing to curb fake news — or, as Google defines it, disinformation.
The white paper is quite lengthy at 32 pages, but it gives us an insider’s look at what’s going on behind-the-scenes at the world’s largest information company. The white paper also establishes just how important the fight against disinformation really is to Google.
Google defines disinformation as “deliberate efforts to deceive and mislead using the speed, scale, and technologies of the open web.” This is an important definition, as the word “deliberate” makes a huge difference — Google isn’t necessarily combating wrong information, but instead focusing on information where the falsities are by design, not on accident.
However, the white paper also proves just how difficult this fight can be. For example, Google says, “It can be extremely difficult (or even impossible) for humans or technology to determine the veracity of, or intent behind, a given piece of content, especially when it relates to current events.” Although the company utilizes both AI- and human-based methods for weeding out fake news, it’s no easy task because of a) the amount of information out there and b) the nuances within that information creating reasonable doubt when it comes to whether or not that information is deliberately trying to mislead the public.
It’s also very difficult for Google to be transparent about what it’s doing to combat disinformation without giving away too much information which would allow those fake news deceivers to get better at what they do.