Since the US election’s ‘surprise’ outcome, supporters of Hillary Clinton have been searching for who and what to blame. One of the more bizarre theories circulating has been that Google, Twitter and Facebook, who WikiLeaks revealed were actually colluding with Clinton’s campaign to get her elected, were to blame for distributing “fake” and “false” news that painted her in a bad light and “unduly” influenced public opinion against her.
In order to take the heat off of themselves, Google and Facebook have now announced measures that will target so-called “fake news” on the internet by cutting off how the writers of such content make money – advertising.
Google is set to do the most damage to alternative news content creators as its AdSense advertising network. AdSense allows advertisers to place text ads on millions of websites that are a part of its network and is a major source of money for many publishers. In the wake of last week’s election, Google is now working on a policy change that would prevent websites that Google deems “false” or “misleading” from using AdSense.
Google has long had rules for AdSense, such as barring ads from appearing next to pornographic or violent content. It uses a combination of human and artificial intelligence to comb through sites’ content, with the artificial intelligence learning from sites removed from the program, making the process faster and more efficient. Essentially, Google is hoping to starve websites that don’t fit the mainstream media’s “truthful” narrative.
Fil Menczer, Professor of Informatics and Computing at Indiana University, told Reuters that Google’s new policy “could cut the income that creates the incentive to create the fake news sites.”
Facebook has followed suit by updating its own advertising policies to include “fake news” in its ban on deceptive and misleading content.
However, there’s a big problem with all of this. What is “fake news”? Anything that could be construed to be a “conspiracy theory” could easily be placed in this category, as could any content that is critical of the “system,” of which Google is a part. More importantly, why is Google being allowed to be the official arbiter of what is true and what is false on the internet? It seems doubtful that Google would target the lies of the mainstream, corporate-owned media since it is beholden to those same interests.
Considering Google’s significant CIA connections, there is likely an agenda here. Trust in the corporate media is at an all-time low while the viewership of the alternative media has grown significantly. This change has happened, in part, because of dishonest reporting from the corporate media. For example, after this year’s election, The New York Times admitted its election coverage had been partial and inaccurate and promised to “rededicate” themselves to honest reporting. However, they and other media outlets like them will not be targeted by Google’s new policy.
By cutting off the alternative media’s income, Google can help kill off the dying corporate media’s competition and lessen the alternative media’s competing narratives. If people are legitimately worried about “false” news, they should investigate or look to confirm any and all stories they read. If there are no hyperlinks or sources in the story and it cannot be confirmed elsewhere, caution is urged. Regardless, people should be able to make up their own minds about what they are reading, not be forced to let Google make that decision for them.
by Whitney Webb
This article was originally published on True Activist and has been republished under a Creative Commons license.