In a recent statement, Google News has cautioned websites to not obscure their country of origin.
The Importance of Reliable Information
With recent concerns over potential Russian interference in the recent United States election, the topic of the reliability of news sources has become a hot topic of discussion. With suggestions that foreign governments have been spreading false information to influence American voters, the need for transparency and trust when it comes to obtaining news is an important part of staying engaged and informed. Google News has recently warned websites that hiding the country where they are based is against their policies, suggesting that crackdowns on sites that masquerade as something they’re not could be imminent.
“Sites included in Google News must not misrepresent, misstate, or conceal information about their ownership or primary purpose, or engage in coordinated activity to mislead users…While we may not take manual action in response to every report, spam reports are prioritised based on user impact, and in some cases may lead to complete removal of a spammy site from Google News results,” stated Google.
While Google News will do its own share of policing when it comes to ensuring the quality of listed news sites, there’s also an option to report sites that are providers of “fake news.”
Google News is the primary way in which many news publications reach readers. While major sites may have a lot of traffic just from reputation, the majority of online traffic comes from web searches on current reported events. Google has relatively high standards for sites to be included in their Google News feed, but it’s always possible that unreliable sources slip through the cracks. With the recent statement that warns against hiding a website’s country of origin, Google has reaffirmed their commitment to playing a key part in providing reliable information to web users.
Particularly noteworthy is the fact that this recent statement focuses on country of origin, suggesting that Google has also recognized the interference of certain countries like Russia when it comes to reporting reliable information. The fact that a government can have such incredible power over the type of news that readers see online has dangerous implications, and as a primary purveyor of online information on current events, Google News has a responsibility to ensure they’re providing accurate information with transparent origins to those looking to stay up to date on the goings on worldwide.
Hopefully this warning is a sign of more serious crackdowns to come, as Google gets better about sniffing out inaccurate sources and works to ban unreliable information that can have potentially drastic effects. As time goes on, more information has come to light that suggests there was a very real possibility of outside influence in the most recent presidential election. The fact that the democratic process can be undermined so easily is incredibly concerning, and this warning by Google News should be the first step towards an internet with a more reliable and transparent view.