Google wants to fight the spread of misinformation — and it’s ready to throw in some serious money to do so.
The company announced on Tuesday that it has earmarked $300 million to boost trusted news sources, making it easier for readers to subscribe to preferred publishers, and introduce fresh tools for journalists.
“We need to do more. That’s why we’re launching the Google News Initiative (GNI), our effort to help journalism thrive in the digital age,” said Philipp Schindler, Google’s chief business officer, in a blog post. “The GNI signifies a major milestone in Google’s 15-year commitment to the news industry, and will bring together everything we do in collaboration with the industry — across products, partnerships, and programs–to help build a stronger future for news.”
Schindler said Google is working to weed out “bad actors” from its recently launched “Breaking News” tab, using machine learning to promote “more authoritative content.” To this end, the company will be partnering with Harvard’s First Draft program to create the Disinfo Lab, which aims to spot and weed out misinformation when news is breaking. Fake news has been more closely associated with Facebook in the last year, but Google has grappled with the issue as well; just last month, YouTube, its massive video platform, promoted Parkland school shooting conspiracies at the top of its trending section.
Google is also working with several major publishers, including The New York Times and Washington Post, to make it easier for users to subscribe to them. The program, called Subscribe with Google, will cut back on users needing to find their credit card each time they’ve hit their monthly limit on free articles. Once their payment information is saved on Google, it’ll now take just a few clicks to sign up and continue reading. Schindler said it’s part of Google’s “commitment to a news industry facing dramatic shifts in how journalism is created, consumed and paid for.”
And for journalists themselves, Google launched a new tool, dubbed Outline, which will make it easier to create VPNs and have secure access to the internet.