News Tech

Google Pledges $300 Million to Clean Up False News


Richard Gingras, Google’s vice president of news products, said the company had built new tools, including some already in operation, to prevent malicious actors from gaming its search algorithms to spread disinformation. He pointed to the search results for the shooting at a Maryland high school earlier Tuesday. Unlike the search results for similar previous shootings, which surfaced stories from hoax websites and toxic message boards, the results on both Google and YouTube for topics related to the Maryland shooting were dominated by stories from legitimate mainstream publications.

“We want to make it easier for users to see the authoritative coverage up front,” Mr. Gingras said.

Google.org, Google’s nonprofit arm, also announced a $10 million media literacy project to help American teenagers learn skills to identify false news. The company said this program would involve using GIFs, memes, videos and YouTube celebrities “to respond to the spread of misinformation.”

Google also pledged to take on an emerging trend: “synthetic media,” a genre of photos and videos that are manipulated using artificial intelligence software. The most troublesome form has been “deepfakes,” ultrarealistic fake videos that swap one face onto another. Experts are concerned that these creations could poison the information landscape.

Google didn’t unveil any specific plans to address synthetic media but said it would release data sets to journalism organizations and researchers to help them develop tools to spot the fakes.

“This won’t solve the problem, but the more brains we put behind it, the more progress we can all make,” Mr. Gingras said.

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