Google, Facebook move to restrict ads on fake news sites

Google and Facebook both announced measures aimed at halting the spread of 'fake news' on the internet by targeting advertising

15 November 2016, 8:14am
Google said it is working on a policy change to prevent websites that misrepresent content from using its AdSense advertising network
Google said it is working on a policy change to prevent websites that misrepresent content from using its AdSense advertising network
Alphabet Inc's Google and Facebook Inc announced on Monday measures aimed at halting the spread of "fake news" on the internet by targeting advertising.

Google said it is working on a policy change to prevent websites that misrepresent content from using its AdSense advertising network, while Facebook updated its advertising policies to spell out that its ban on deceptive and misleading content applies to fake news.

Google's AdSense network is a major source of revenue for many sites, while mobile apps and third-party sites use the Facebook Audience Network to show ads with Facebook. The Facebook and Google shift could curb the financial incentive for fake news sites.

According to Reuters news agency, the shifts come as Google, Facebook and Twitter Inc face backlash over the role they played in the US presidential election by allowing the spread of false and often malicious information that might have swayed voters toward Republican candidate Donald Trump.

The issue has provoked a fierce debate within Facebook especially, with Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg insisting twice in recent days that the site had no role in influencing the election.

Facebook's steps are limited to its ad policies, and do not target fake news sites shared by users on their news feeds.

"We do not integrate or display ads in apps or sites containing content that is illegal, misleading or deceptive, which includes fake news," Facebook said in a statement, adding that it will continue to vet publishers to ensure compliance.

Google's move similarly does not address the issue of fake news or hoaxes appearing in Google search results. Google’s change is aimed at assuring that publishers on the network are legitimate and eliminating financial incentives that appear to have driven the production of much fake news.

"Moving forward, we will restrict ad serving on pages that misrepresent, misstate, or conceal information about the publisher, the publisher's content, or the primary purpose of the web property," Google said in a statement.

The company did not detail how it would implement or enforce the new policy.