Google pledges huge investment with journalism industry and plans to tackle fake news

Google News Initiative

You’ve read the headlines: Google is taking aim at fake news.

Several media agencies recently covered the company’s $300 million news initiative. Read all about it in Mashable, TechCrunch, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal.

The news initiative is a multi-pronged program that Google Chief Business Officer Phillipp Schindler describes as “a way to tie together all the company’s efforts to work with the journalism industry,” reports TechCrunch senior writer Anthony Ha.

“Google says the News Initiative is focused on three broad goals — strengthening quality journalism, supporting sustainable business models and empowering newsrooms through technological innovation,” Ha writes, mentioning the total commitment from Google is $300 million over the next three years on various journalism-related projects.

Separately, Google’s nonprofit organization Google.org announced a $10 million media literacy project to help US teens learn how to identify false news, reports The New York Times.

According to The Times’s Kevin Roose, the Google.org program will use GIFs, memes, videos, and YouTube celebrities “to respond to the spread of misinformation.”

Furthermore, Roose reports “Google has pledged to take on an emerging trend: ‘synthetic media,’ a genre of photos and videos that are manipulated using artificial intelligence software. The most troublesome form has been deepfakes, ultrarealistic fake videos that swap one face onto another.”

The struggle is real

Combatting fake news has never been more critical.

Last year, Cision surveyed more than 1,500 journalists and found that a staggering 91 percent of journalists feel they’ve lost public trust.

The majority of those journalists – 55.61 percent – reported feeling much less trusted than in previous years.

Everything now needs to be quality checked, including the use of art. (Wondering whether you can use that picture? Here are three rules to keep you from breaking copyright rules.)

And, in case you missed it, yesterday we took a closer look at how to spot a hoax photo this April Fools’ Day and features tools you can use.

Unfortunately, occasions like April Fools’ Day can be riddled with hoaxes and false news.

As a journalist, getting duped by this kind of material can have major consequences, including losing your job.

All of this ties into audience trust of what they’re seeing, reading, and consuming.

It’s a big part of why Google is moving to educate youth early – the earlier, the better.fake photo video by good morning america

Teaching fact from fiction

The Poynter Institute is leading a groundbreaking, $3 million project funded by Google.org to help middle and high schoolers become smarter consumers of online information.

And, it takes place in the classroom.

The MediaWise project will bring together experts from the Local Media Association, Stanford Graduate School of Education, and Poynter. It will feature a curriculum to be taught in a first-of-its-kind, fact-checking online program.

The goal is to reach a million students, with at least 50 percent coming from underserved or low-income communities.

“Democracy works best when citizens can make decisions for themselves based on accurate, independent and honest information,” said Poynter Institute President Neil Brown, in a release.

Stanford History Education Group found that despite being constantly online, the vast majority of teenagers are unable to correctly evaluate the credibility of news and information.

FWIW, adults didn’t do much better, according to Stanford’s research.

Over the next two years, Stanford will develop a new curriculum for use in schools to better teach information literacy and improve what it calls, “civic online reasoning.”

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Christine Cube is a senior audience relations manager with PR Newswire and freelance writer. Follow @cpcube or check out her latest on Beyond Bylines on PR Newswire for Journalists.

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