Google has made a big change to its policies on news articles and websites, hoping to improve the odds in the ongoing war against “fake news.” Google News will no longer show results from publications that “misrepresent or conceal their country of origin,” or sites that are “directed at users in another country under false premises.” This means that websites attempting to pass themselves off as American news won’t be included in Google’s News section or search results.
It’s clear why Google is implementing the chance. Over the last year we’ve heard of numerous instances of misleading and fake news reports from sites fooling readers into thinking they’re legitimate US outlets, especially cases of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Both Google and Facebook have been heavily criticized for not trying to do more to stop the spread of misinformation.
Speaking to Bloomberg, a Google spokesperson noted that the change in policy is in order to “reflect a constantly changing web and how people look for information online.” The search engine wants “to ensure that people can understand and see where their news online is coming from and that sites are being transparent about their origins.”
The new requirements don’t apply to sites that are open about their country of origin, only publications that try to conceal or lie about their origin. We’ll have to see, however, if Google can actually identify and remove these sites before they gain traction as news, as opposed to just pulling them after they make headlines.