Search engine giant, Google, has disclosed plans to tackle the spread of fake news and misinformation on coronavirus with a $6.5 million fund.
Google reportedly wants to use the fund to help fact-checking organizations, who have been affected by the pandemic, and are now operating on relatively small budgets.
According to Alexios Mantzarlis who serves as the News and Information Credibility Lead at Google News Lab, many fact-checking organizations have recently witnessed a surge in demand for their work. This is amid wide-spreading misinformation about the pandemic, even as people try to clarify the rumours. He said:
“Uncertainty and fear make us all more susceptible to inaccurate information, so we’re supporting fact-checkers as they address heightened demand for their work.”
Fact-checkers are already being engaged around the globe. Examples of them include Full Fact and Maldita.es, CORRECTIV, LatamChequea, and health fact-checkers, PolitiFact and Kaiser Health News, amongst others.
Meanwhile, Google also disclosed that an online resource hub dedicated to the training reporters covering COVID-19 would be provided. In addition, a network will be provided for the sole purpose of enabling newsrooms and reporters to address fake news content about the disease.
For journalists covering COVID-19 stories, Google would ensure they have access to primary expert sources. This is due to the importance of referencing public health professionals in their stories.
“We also want to do more to surface fact-checks that address potentially harmful health misinformation more prominently to our users, We’re experimenting with how to best include a dedicated fact-check section in the COVID-19 Google News experience,” Mantzarlis said.
Recall that Facebook recently announced a $100 million investment to assist media houses as they get through the downsides of the Coronavirus pandemic. Nairametrics earlier reported that the fund was divided into two parts –$25 million in emergency grant funding for local news through the Facebook Journalism Project, and $75 million in additional support to news organizations around the world.
It is expected to be an intervention for news reportage due to decline in ad revenues.