Google Suspends Publisher Fact-Checking After Accusations Of Discrimination

Google is following in Facebook's footsteps and abandoning a search feature that displayed fact checks for publishers after a malfunction prompted conservative media outlets to accuse Google of discrimination.

 

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Facebook ditched its "Fake News" flag last month after it discovered that flagged stories actually saw a boost in readership. Last week, CEO Mark Zuckerberg revealed that Facebook would try out a new system: It would rank news organizations by trustworthiness, using data gleaned from user surveys.

The feature in question is Google's "Reviewed Claims" feature, which was launched last year.

A Google spokesperson said the company was withdrawing the service because "it's clear that we are unable to deliver the quality we'd like for users."

"We launched the reviewed claims feature in our Knowledge Panel at the end of last year as an experiment with the aim of helping people quickly learn more about news publications," a Google spokesperson said in an emailed statement to Poynter.

"We said previously that we encountered challenges in our systems that maps fact checks to publishers, and on further examination it’s clear that we are unable to deliver the quality we’d like for users."

Google launched the Knowledge Panel feature in November on mobile and desktop in an effort to display information about specific publishers in search, according to Poynter. Part of that feature included a Reviewed Claims column that matched outlets’ disputed claims with fact checks contributed by independent fact-checking organizations to the Schema.org ClaimReview markup.

DC

However, that feature came under fire last week when The Daily Caller published a story blasting Google for wrongly appending a Washington Post fact check to one of its stories about Robert Mueller’s investigation team.

Ironically, it was the fact check that was incorrect.

Google told Poynter on Friday that the decision to suspend Reviewed Claims resulted in part because of The Daily Caller’s complaint, as well as feedback from other users.

Going forward, Google’s spokesperson said that the feature won't be scrapped: Instead, Google's engineers will keep working to improve it until it's ready to be reintroduced.