Google and fact checking the news

Last October, Google introduced something called the Fact Check tag. The idea is, publishers include the tag in a story for it to be considered for the tag. When the story is posted on Google News, a fact check-approved story will appear with the Fact Check label.

Here’s the original post about the Fact Check tag. And here’s an update from Google on the current state of Fact Check.

This is a great start. But it is far too limited. We need fact checking to spread beyond the Google News bubble. We need a Fact Check standard to spread to every single source of news, across the political spectrum.

When you go food shopping, you know you can check the standardized ingredients label to see how much sodium or fat is in a product. We need a reliable, verifiable label like that for the news. Sites could achieve an “All Fact” label if they achieve a set minimum percentage of fact checked stories.

Apple has an opportunity here. Join with Google to spread the fact check concept to Apple News. And beyond. My two cents? This is incredibly important.

[H/T John Kordyback]

  • jimothyGator

    In other words: Can someone do the thinking for me, so I don’t have to?

    No, it’s not that either. It’s can someone do the thinking for the poor, unfortunate souls who, unlike me, are not smart enough to figure out things on their own?

    What’s faker than “fake news?” The outrage over fake news.

    • JimCracky

      Your comment is right on the money. How about, we teach kids to think. How bout we separate church, state and science.

      The biggest plot from the neocon right has been the systematic dumbing down of American education. That phenomenon is going on today. Why did our republican governor cut $250 million from the university system?

      If you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything.

      • jimothyGator

        My point is that I think the concern over “fake news” is overblown. No one is immune to being duped, myself included, but I don’t think that other people as as easily fooled as they’re being portrayed.

        I’m not anxious to see Google, Facebook, or the government appoint themselves as the Minister of Truth.

        • “I don’t think that other people as as easily fooled as they’re being portrayed.” You don’t use Facebook, do you?

          • jimothyGator

            Just because someone likes or shares something on Facebook doesn’t mean they’re fooled by it. It doesn’t even mean they read what they shared.

            There’s much speculation that “fake news” influences behavior, such as voting behavior, but has anyone offered any proof of that? A Stanford study, an article about which I’ve linked to before, casts doubt on this:

            “A reader of our study could very reasonably say, based on our set of facts, that it is unlikely that fake news swayed the election.”

            Your comment makes the point I’m trying to make: Proponents of the fake news freak out like to point to others, and say, look at all the dupes on Facebook, falling for fake news!

            So let me ask, Mr. King, do you yourself need someone else deciding for you what is real news and what is fake news, or is that just needed to protect you from the foolishness of those who cannot discern truth?

          • “It doesn’t even mean they read what they shared.”

            That’s part of the problem.

            Both your concern and the other concerns here, no matter what part of the political spectrum one falls on, would be answered by bringing back teaching critical thinking skills in schools. By that, I don’t mean confusing opinion with critical thinking, but mainly the ability to everyone agreeing that there are actual facts. I’ve had people disagree with me about numbers — not disagree with interpretation of the numbers but actually claim the numbers were fake, and they clearly are not. We are talking the “2+2=4” level of factual number. That is a problem with education and likely a healthy dose of self-imposed ignorance, and it’s a serious problem for this country going forward.

            A lot of that starts with teaching people they have to at least read things before they talk about/share them.

          • jimothyGator

            I agree for sure that critical thinking should be encouraged more, but I don’t take it for granted that others are not capable of thinking. Perhaps I’m being naïve and critical thinking really is dead, but I don’t believe it.

            What I do believe is that a “Real News” seal of approval is not going to help with critical thinking. Instead, it’s a substitute for it, a crutch. It could cause whatever critical thinking ability lives on to atrophy, because the seal shows that someone did that thinking for us.

            I also worry that the arbiters of “real news” can and will abuse their position to push their viewpoint. I’m willing to put up with some “fake news” if the alternative means a monoculture of opinion.

          • Critical thinking is only mostly dead. Which means it’s slightly alive.

            We probably need a Miracle Max instead of a Betsy Devos, though.


          • jimothyGator

            Everyone likes to complain about the state of education (you and I included), so why do they keep wanting to to the same thing?

            The vast majority of students are taught in public schools, so if it is true that schools are not teaching critical thinking, it sounds to me like it’s time for something different.

            I’ve got a million things to complain about the Trump administration, but DeVos isn’t one of them. Frankly, I’d like to the federal government to have precisely zero to do with education (as they did during the long, dark period of U.S. history before 1979), but as long as they do, I’d rather someone who advocates school choice and who is not beholden to teachers’ unions be in place.

            Yesterday, The Loop posted a story about AT&T offering a new unlimited data plan in response to offers from T-Mobile and Verizon (though Jim, curiously, lamented that it had to be competition that prompted this, rather than, what? Benevolence on the part of the wireless providers, or a mandate from government?).

            So we recognize the roll that choice plays in improving products and services, and how it drives value up. Why, then, are people so afraid of choice in education? Why is this something that must be fought tooth and nail?

            Is it the fear that the children of the wealthy will get a better education than the poor? They already do, in large part because of public education. Depending on what part of the country you live in, you can get a very good public education for your children for the low, low price of $500,000. True, you get a free house included, but this is an option afforded to the wealthy and upper middle class, while the poor suffer with schools that are allowed to suck because their is no competition.

            Is school choice a panacea? No, but it at least deserves a chance. The mantra of “more money is needed for public schools” has been the ruling philosophy for decades, and yet people’s concerns have not subsided.

            You are, I presume from your earlier comments, a believer that schools need more money, and yet here you, too, complain about schools. With all due respect, there aren’t many signs the approach you advocate is working.

            Let’s see what the fact checkers say about the link between education spending and achievement:


            To summarize their findings: Over the past three decades, per pupil spending has more than doubled after adjusting for inflation, with no significant change in testing scores.

          • No time to go into it now, but I believe we need the Department of Education. Having 50 and more separate education departments will not move this country forward. There must be a baseline or states will just be all over the place and we will fall even further behind other countries. (And, no, states won’t compete and get better and try to draw people to live in them. There are a lot of people who just can’t move for many reasons.)

            As for more money for schools, you would presume wrong there. However, I also don’t believe the money needs to be cut or promised and never delivered, or tossed out because the panacea of school vouchers is believed it will fix everything. (I’m currently living in Oklahoma, ranked 48th in the nation in education quality mainly due to politicians cutting education and approving things like reflecting pools in front of the capital building, and similar things.) Reflexive refusal of guidelines that just help ruin everything is not an answer.

            Last, and then I have to work, “testing” is part of the problem. Teaching to the test has got us to much of where we are today. That won’t get us to the critical thinking skills we need to teach again.

          • jimothyGator

            Yep, I wholly agree with you on the plague of testing. But then, too, school choice could help with that. Some parents may think test scores are paramount, while others may recognize a good education is more nuanced than that. A single, national standard won’t allow for that. Nor will 50 standards. Instead, we need millions of standards, with parents deciding for themselves. It works in phones and restaurants; it could work for education.

            School choice isn’t a panacea, but I do believe it is would be an improvement. As Thomas Sowell says, there are no solutions, only tradeoffs. Those looking for perfection will always be disappointed. Those promising perfection will tend to find themselves running for office.

            I think the drive against school choice is driven by the same sort of arrogance that drives people to believe we need arbiters of truth. Sure, I can be trusted to pick the best school for my kids, but what about everyone else? They can’t be trusted to make the right decision for their children. Won’t someone think of the children? (Likewise for the debates of cash vs. in-kind welfare, drug policy, automobile safety equipment, and so on).

            Yes, getting back to work is the right thing to do.

          • “Just because someone likes or shares something on Facebook doesn’t mean they’re fooled by it.”

            Agreed. Which is why I didn’t say that.

            “It doesn’t even mean they read what they shared.”

            That’s NOT a good thing.

          • jimothyGator

            You certainly implied it. If they’re not fooled by it, who cares? Based on your participation in this discussion, I assume you agree, to some degree, with Mr. Mark that “we need a Fact Check standard to spread to every single source of news, across the political spectrum.” Am I correct with that assumption?

            You didn’t answer my question: Do you personally need someone to tell you what is real news, lest you be fooled or unable to determine what is legitimate?

            I have too much respect for and confidence in others to believe this is some urgent issue requires the right minds to do something.

          • Don’t go by what people imply. Go by what they say or don’t say.

          • jimothyGator

            Since you don’t answer my questions, my best option is to go by what you imply, and that is that people posting things on Facebook is a problem.

            Further, if I go on what you imply, my conclusions have at least some chance of hitting the mark. If I go on what you don’t say, I could reach any conclusion at all. I doubt that’s really what you want.

          • I’m sorry and don’t take this the wrong way but I am under no obligation to answer your questions. Have a great day.

          • jimothyGator

            And yet you did answer, all of three minutes later, confirming the arrogance and conceit I suspected all along.

          • “Do you personally need someone to tell you what is real news, lest you be fooled or unable to determine what is legitimate?” No. But many do for any number of reasons.

    • Terrymweikel

      Google is paying 97$ per hour! Work for few hours and have longer with friends & family! !mj447d: On tuesday I got a great new Land Rover Range Rover from having earned $8752 this last four weeks.. Its the most-financialy rewarding I’ve had.. It sounds unbelievable but you wont forgive yourself if you don’t check it !mj447d: ➽➽ ➽➽;➽➽ http://GoogleFinancialJobsCash447HomeBookGetPay$97Hour ★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★:::::!mj447d:….,…..

  • TWF

    Shame the ‘fact checkers’ are all leftists…

    • jimothyGator

      There’s no way this could go wrong or be abused.

    • Shame the righties are all liars.

      • jimothyGator

        And here we were worried that “fact checkers” would be biased.

  • John Kordyback

    I’m breaking out the popcorn to read the comments on this story.

    • Yeah – it has the potential to get ugly…

      • John Kordyback

        People who view this as a left vs right story are certainly missing the point. Google is currently the best at large scale data analysis, algorithms, and machine learning – their whole company’s premise is to gather as much data as possible and feed into their vast learning engines. And they are very good at it. Search, maps, ads, news, etc. Really good at it when you look at their numbers.

        The fact checkers will get the same dispassionate assessment as everyone else. Lots of people will try to game it like they did with SEO’s and spam – and for the most part they lose over time. I suspect the same thing will happen here.

        The comments about “leftists” or “righties” is kind of short sighted. And boring. I personally think this will change the dynamics of things and I’m really fascinated to see how.

        • “People who view this as a left vs right story are certainly missing the point.” Absolutely.