Google and Facebook have both announced plans to “crack down” on alternative news websites in an effort to prop up mainstream news outlets suffering declining audience numbers.
Under the guise of protecting the public against “fake news”, the internet giants will soon stop non-verified mainstream news outlets from monetising their content by banning advertisements from appearing on them.
Google will update its Adsense policies to ban pages that “misrepresent, misstate, or conceal information about the publisher, the publisher’s content, or the primary purpose“, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The crack down comes amid complaints from mainstream media outlets such as CNN and Buzzfeed that ‘alt media’ websites are “biased” and “misleading”, as they try to deflect attention away from their shameful coverage of the election season.
Alternative media have broken some the biggest stories of the year, with mainstream outlets playing catch-up when the story has become too big for them to ignore.
The ban on so-called “fake news” sites comes a day after the Washington Post reported on Google promoting an obscure blog at the top of their search results that had misrepresented the final vote count from this years election.
The post alleged that President-elect Donald Trump had won the popular vote over Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton by 700,000 votes. Clinton won the popular vote, and the margin between her and Trump stands at about 700,000 votes.
— Dan Amira (@DanAmira) November 14, 2016
Alongside Google, Facebook is also responding to assertions that the spread of fake news played a role in the outcome of the election.
Though Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg originally said the idea that fake news distributed on the platform affected the election was “crazy,” the company is targeting fake news through ad sales, too.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Facebook will explicitly ban sites that peddle fake news from using the Facebook Audience Network. A spokesperson said these sites fall under the category of misleading, illegal, or deceptive sites already barred.
“While implied, we have updated the policy to explicitly clarify that this applies to fake news,” a Facebook spokesman said. “We vigorously enforce our policies and take swift action against sites and apps that are found to be in violation. Our team will continue to closely vet all prospective publishers and monitor existing ones to ensure compliance.”