Amid growing criticism over the role of online platforms in spreading fake news, Google has announced plans to shut out websites that traffic in misinformation from its third-party ad service. The search giant said Monday night that it would ban all publishers with articles intended to mislead or deceive readers from its AdSense network, the exchange through which Google sells display ads to independent sites across the web.
The company said the update was intended to match similar policies it already has in place to block deceitful ads such as weight-loss scams or false drug promises.
The Wall Street Journal first reported the policy change earlier on Monday.
The move comes as last week’s election results bring online platforms under increased scrutiny over how much responsibility they have to ensure the veracity of the news they help circulate.
Facebook, which has born the brunt of this backlash, repeatedly surfaced demonstrably false news stories in its trending topics section in the months leading up to the election — a disproportionate number from right-wing conspiracy sites.
Critics say the social network should do a better job of vetting these kinds of hoaxes.
But even Google News, which supposedly tightly regulates the accuracy of stories that appear in its results, is not immune, it seems. Hours before Google made the change, the top news item when users searched for “election results” was an erroneous post claiming Donald Trump had won the popular vote.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has repeatedly denied that hoaxes have any effect on public opinion among users, but it seems not everybody at the company agrees. BuzzFeedreports that a group of “renegade employees” have formed a task force to take on the scourge of fake news on the platform.