There is a new, magical reality that makes thinking so much easier in the 21st Century. Anything voiced on social media becomes an instant truth, and anything that lands itself on Google’s top pages is written in stone. No questions asked.
It’s great for those who have no time to think, question or research. It’s life made simple and easy—and the reason that blissful ignorance has always been so … blissful.
Having reached this nirvana, though, the glass house of ignorance is now shattering as the lies compound into a form of propaganda, both foreign and domestic, that taints the bliss.
Now, after years of being the giant search engine that has gradually helped fake news build up its massive strength, Google is fighting back against this monster of our own making with a $300-million investment commitment in what it calls the “Google News Initiative” (GNI).
Google wants real journalism back and is ready to fight the epidemic spread of misinformation by spending $300 million over three years on efforts to purge the search engine of fake news by strengthening quality journalism, increasing user literacy, and tweaking its own search systems.
It’s a small dollar amount for a massive problem—and Google knows it.
“It’s becoming increasingly difficult to distinguish what’s true (and not true) online,” Google said in a blog post. “Business models for journalism continue to change drastically. The rapid evolution of technology is challenging all institutions, including the news industry, to keep pace.” Related: What Should Gold Investors Expect From The New Fed Chair?
Recently, Google has teamed up with fact-checking networks as a starting point in the fight against fake news and is taking some other measures as well. But the new GNI initiative hopes to take things further by working with Harvard University’s First Draft project, Poynter Institute, Stanford University and the Local Media Association. Together, they will develop MediaWise, a project that hopes to increase digital literacy.
But building journalism back up from a handful of ashes won’t be easy, and the entire profession has been decimated. Everyone’s a journalist these days, and it’s hard to compete with instant headlines propagating blatantly false, but nonetheless interesting, ‘news’.
And combatting fake news will mean that someone’s going to have to define it. Americans can’t seem to agree on what ‘fake news’ really is. By some perceptions, fake news is simply news that one doesn’t agree with. By others, it’s a reference to something that’s extremely partisan. But at its core, fake news is a falsified news story—and this is what Google is gunning for.
If it’s going to succeed, it’s going to have to level the playing field because as it stands, real journalism can’t get stories out there fast enough to compete. Research, confirmations and interviews are a race against time, and truth is a battle to the bitter end against propaganda.
Ask Facebook, which is now dealing with the fallout from allowing the Russians and the Trump’s political campaign consultants harvest the data of tens of millions of users to sway opinion in the 2016 elections.
Facebook failed to deal with this in time, but Google is trying to get out in front of it before it hits the point of no return. It’ll take more than $300 million, but respectable publishers are likely glad to know that Google is now on the right side of history.
By Fred Dunkley for Safehaven.com
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