Google announced Tuesday that it plans to spend $300 million (roughly Rs. 1,950 crores) over the next three years to help combat the spread of misinformation online and help journalism outlets.
The company said it has adjusted its systems and rankings to lead people to “more authoritative content” on Google search and YouTube, especially when it comes to breaking news events. Google said that bad actors often exploit these situations, seeking to surface inaccurate content on Google’s platforms.
Last year, Google came under intense scrutiny over the role its platforms played in the spread of misinformation during the 2016 election. Google’s services have immense reach. Roughly 1.6 billion people watch YouTube videos every month.
“While we take great care to present the most authoritative information, there are many cases where users can and will find information that’s not authoritative,” Richard Gringas, vice president of news products, said, referring to Google search. Gringas added that the company is trying to find other ways to help people understand that “not all the results they see are indeed authoritative or accurate.”
On YouTube’s homepage, Gringas said that a breaking news section, featuring verified authoritative sources has already been launched in 10 countries, helping users quickly learn the news of the day. He said YouTube plans to expand the feature to many more countries.
The tech giant also said that it will launch a program called the Disinfo Lab with the Shorenstein Center at Harvard’s Kennedy School to curb misinformation through research and education. Google said it is also partnering with the Poynter Institute, Stanford University, and the Local Media Association to launch an initiative to improve digital information literacy for young people in the United States.
Google also plans to help news outlets’ bottom line by helping them pull in online subscribers. An online feature that’s still being tested would give publishers a better idea of which readers are inclined to purchase a news subscription. The company is using machine learning models to help publishers identify which readers are more likely to subscribe to news. The tool will also inform publishers when to prompt readers to subscribe.
According to Google, the feature led to a tripling of new digital subscriptions in a month at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, which is one of the first outlets to test it.
Google is also launching an open source tool called Outline, that will offer news outlets the ability to set up their own virtual private network – a way to connect to the Internet without revealing web browsing habits or communications to third parties.