Further to my blog post last night, I decided to look at Google News to see who had the latest on our PM, Jacinda Ardern. Feeding in her name, the above is the results’ page.
I had thought that I had never seen Newsroom, which I make a point of checking out ahead of corporate, foreign-owned media such as Stuff and The New Zealand Herald, on Google News, but it turns out that I was wrong: its articles do appear. That’s a positive.
But scroll down this page and see what else does.
I have said in the past that Google News has itself to blame for allowing, into its index, illegitimate websites that have no journalistic integrity. I think this screen shot proves it.
The last two sources: 10,000 Couples and Insider Car News—the latter, in fact, so fake that it doesn’t even use the ASCII letters for its name (it’s Іnsіdеr Cаr Nеws), which is a common spammers’ trick—have made it into Google News. Neither is legit, and the latter has “content mill” writ large in its title. Surely an experienced editor at Google News would have seen this.
Once upon a time, Google News would never have allowed such sites into this part of its index, and it was strict on checking what would make it. Evidently there is no standard now.
If you want to look at “fake news”, here is a wonderful example: it’s not just on Facebook.
No wonder some legitimate, well regarded websites are suffering all over the world. If this is representative of Google’s effort at shutting down fake-news operators, as it has claimed it is doing, then it is a dismal failure. Google, perhaps like Facebook, does not seem interested in dealing with fakes at all. In fact, it’s quite happy to shut legitimate sites down and accuse them of malware.
It reinforces my point that we need alternatives right now to save the internet from itself. The trouble is whether the internet community is going to bother, or if we’re happy being sheeple.