Google to spend $395m on push to fight fake news

Called "Google News Initiative", the effort empowers journalists through secure access to the Internet and a new mechanism to help legitimate news organisations reach potential subscribers.
Called "Google News Initiative", the effort empowers journalists through secure access to the Internet and a new mechanism to help legitimate news organisations reach potential subscribers.PHOTO: REUTERS

It will boost credible news for more visibility online, help news outlets reach subscribers

Google has launched a new initiative to combat the spread of misinformation and disinformation.

Called Google News Initiative (GNI), the effort involves elevating credible news for greater visibility online, empowering journalists through secure access to the Internet, and a new mechanism to help legitimate news organisations reach potential subscribers.

"Our mission to build a more informed world is inherently tied to the reporting of journalists and news organisations," Mr Philipp Schindler, Google's chief business officer and senior vice-president, told journalists at a launch event in New York yesterday.

"It's becoming increasingly difficult to distinguish what's true and what's not online. Business models for journalism continue to change drastically. The rapid evolution of technology is challenging all institutions, including the news industry, to keep pace," he said.

Google will spend US$300 million (S$395 million) over three years on GNI to "elevate and strengthen quality journalism, promote business models to drive sustainable growth and empower news organisations".

Several features are being launched on Google platforms to combat fake news and highlight relevant content from credible sources during elections and breaking news moments, said Mr Schindler.

Google is also teaming up with the Poynter Institute, Stanford University and the Local Media Association to launch MediaWise, a US project designed to improve digital information literacy among young consumers.

Google is also launching a feature called Subscribe with Google, described as "a way for people to easily subscribe to various news outlets, helping publishers engage readers across Google and the Web". The feature will help publishers to identify potential subscribers as well.

Also unveiled yesterday was an open-source tool called Outline that will allow news organisations to set up their own virtual private network on a private server, which would provide journalists with more secure access to the Internet.

"The commitments we are making through the Google News Initiative demonstrates that news and quality journalism are a top priority for Google," Mr Schindler said.

"We know that success can be achieved only by working together, and we look forward to collaborating with the news industry to build a stronger future for journalism."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 21, 2018, with the headline 'Google to spend $395m on push to fight fake news'. Print Edition | Subscribe