The problem of fake news is one that isn't going away anytime soon. It's led Google to announce a new change to its search engine algorithm to help combat disinformation - and even inspired the founder of Wikipedia to launch a new site to tackle fake news.
Google's search engine was under scrutiny in December 2016 for surfacing Holocaust denial stories when people searched "Did the Holocaust happen?" To fix fake news problems like these, the company is making four key changes. The first change Google is making is to its "Search Quality Rater Guidelines." Those guidelines, used by real people who evaluate Google's search results, will now include information on how to flag hoaxes, conspiracy theories, and "unexpected offensive results." The company is also tweaking its "signals" to "surface more authoritative pages and demote low-quality content."
However, if you spot some fake news, it's even easier to help Google out. Both in autocomplete searches and "featured snippets," which are search results that show a small preview answering your question, you'll find a now-easier-to-locate "Feedback" option. Highlight what's wrong with the search answer and send it away to Google.
Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia, has a different approach to fake news. According to Wired, the minute he heard Kellyanne Conway say "alternative facts" is the moment he came up with the idea of Wikitribune. Similar to Wikipedia, Wikitribune will also have a team of journalists and volunteers who will edit any content that goes up. The site will be free of ads and the company "will publish its financials regularly" as a means of transparency. However, to make this dream come true, it'll need donations to its initial campaign. At the time of writing, Wikitribune has 4,243 supporters and has "hired" two out of 10 journalists needed to get the project up and running.
While it's unlikely that 10 hardworking journalists will be able to eradicate fake news by themselves, with the help of citizen watchdogs and Google's more focused efforts, we're hopeful they can make a dent.