Last month, a news alert came through that European Union slapped Google with a $2.7 billion fine for breaking antitrust law. The EU judged that Google had "abused its dominate position by systematically favoring" its own shopping comparison services while demoting its competitors' listings.
There's some irony, then, in a recent bid by a coalition of 2,000+ US and Canadian newspapers—the News Media Alliance (NMA)-- for a limited antitrust exemption from Congress which would let news organizations collectively bargain with Facebook and Google, like a union would. Some believe the internet giants have only gained their dominance by skirting antitrust regulations.
Will the U.S. Congress grant the antitrust reprieve and allow news publishers to band together at the bargaining table with Google and Facebook? It's not clear. The media's request might not be so enthusiastically received by the Republication-controlled Congress. What about other governments around the globe? Are they reluctant to take action as EU lawmakers are taking a hard stance?
What is clear is that fake news continues to dominate Facebook News Feed, the top results of Google's search engine and WhatsApp and other messaging services. Whether because they lack the ability or the desire, Facebook and Google have not yet stepped up to guarantee the accuracy of reporting upheld by reputable news associations but they have been updating their algorithms to attempt to combat the problem.
WhatsApp's encrypted instant messaging application boasts 1.2 billion users worldwide who pass along messages, and fake news is rapidly becoming a problem as the information could easily get disseminated with no oversight from members of a social media community. Shammas Oliyath and Balkrishna Birla founded check4spam to bust fake news floating around WhatsApp, but it is quite manual. Users have to identify stories they want to check with check4spam. While there are many other fact-checking sites that have been around for a while and new ones that are emerging, fact-checking sites cannot keep up with the countless stories popping up.
Then whose fault is this rise in fake news? Google and Facebook and WhatsApp? Government regulations or lack thereof? Or, is it ultimately, a bunch of us consumers that prefer to get our news from social and free streams rather than reputable, paid news sources?
Maybe it doesn't matter. The fact is real news costs. Good news is time consuming and expensive. As NMA president and chief executive David Chavern explains, "Facebook and Google don't employ reporters. They don't dig through public records to uncover corruption, send correspondents into war zones or attend last night's game to get the highlights."
In situations where it really matters whether we're relying on verified, accurately-reported news, the fact is, we're probably going to have to pay for it.
But, if we're going to continue to use these free (or very cheap) news sources in less critical situations, then it's up to us to figure out if it's real. These tips to ferret out fake news have been often reported but here are a few of the key ones:
But if you've gotten your news from Facebook or other social media, Google or a variety of other free web sources without verification from multiple reputable news publishers … well, then, you got what you paid for.
1. "Fake News" may be around for a while. Learn tips to Combat Fake News!
2. Learn from the expert on how to Fact Check Like a Pro.
3. Discover how Nexis can help to sift through the clutter to find reputable news.