Facebook and Google are responding to the election backlash from critics by hitting fake news providers where it hurts: in the wallet.
Both companies have been ridiculed for allowing fake election news on their platforms — a move that critics say played a role in the election of Donald Trump as the next president of the United States. Although Google has faced some criticism for not better policing its search results for bogus news, Facebook has been ridiculed more harshly. The media, analysts and Hillary Clinton supporters have been pointing fingers at CEO Mark Zuckerberg, saying he should have done more to eradicate fake news items from Facebook’s news feed. Many believe it was the phony stories that appeared there that convinced voters to choose Trump over Clinton.
Google announced late Monday its plans to prevent fake news providers from using its ad-selling software while Facebook followed with an announcement that bogus news sites would be barred from using the social network’s advertising network. Both moves effectively prohibit fake news providers from generating revenue.
Google has updated its policy to ban sites “that misrepresent, misstate, or conceal information about the publisher, the publisher’s content, or the primary purpose” of the website. The policy applies to providers that distribute false news, a Google spokeswoman told The Wall Street Journal.
Facebook also changed the language in its Audience Network Policy to make it more clear that it does not allow the integration of display ads in apps or sites containing content that is misleading or deceptive.
“We have updated the policy to explicitly clarify that this applies to fake news,” a Facebook spokesman told The New York Times. “Our team will continue to closely vet all prospective publishers and monitor existing ones to ensure compliance.”
The update comes just two days after Zuckerberg took to his Facebook page to defend the social network against critics’ accusations. It also follows comments he made last week about such accusations being “crazy.”
“I’ve seen some of the stories you are talking about around this election and personally I think the idea that fake news on Facebook, of which it’s a very small amount of the content, influenced the election in any way is a pretty crazy idea,” Zuckerberg said in a live interview at Techonomy16.
“You know voters make decisions based on their lived experience. We really believe in people. You don’t generally go wrong when you trust that people understand what they care about and what’s important to them and you build systems that reflect that. Part of what I think is going on here is people are trying to understand the result of the election, but I do think that there is a certain profound lack of empathy in asserting that the only reason someone could have voted the way they did is because they saw some fake news. If you believe that then, I don’t think you have internalized the message that Trump supporters are trying to send in this election.”
Despite Zuckerberg’s words, obviously not all of his employees agree with him. A rogue group of workers has reportedly formed an unofficial task force in a bid to eradicate fake news. According to BuzzFeed, the group plans to “make a list of recommendations” to give to Facebook’s senior executives.