Fake news clampdown: Google gives €150,000 to fact-checking projects

Funding comes amid debate about role of the search engine in spreading bogus content some say influenced US election

Google has given €150,000 to three UK organisations working on fact-checking projects to help journalists and the public avoid falling for fake stories and bogus claims.

The funding announcement comes amid heated debate about the role of companies such as Facebook and Google in spreading fake stories that some claim influenced the results of the US election.

The money is part of a €24m (£20.5m) round of funding from Google’s digital news initiative, which backs innovative projects in news across Europe.

UK fact-checking charity Full Fact is being given €50,000 to work on an automated tool aimed primarily at journalists, called Factchecking Automation and Claim Tracking System (Facts).

Full Fact says the system will be “the first fully automated fact-checking tool” which will “recognise claims in political debates and online media and immediately alert journalists if they are inaccurate”.

Will Moy, Full Fact’s director, said growing unease around fake news was creating more interest in ways to verify information.

“We have been going six years,” he said. “It used to be the case that you had to explain why there was harm done by bad information. People now accept that bad information can be damaging.”

Another €50,000 is being given to a project called Factmata, developed at University College London and University of Sheffield.

In its pitch to Google, Factmata’s founder, Dhruv Ghulati, said it would use machine intelligence “to empower people to question the digital content they read on a daily basis, and not take anything for granted”.

He adds: “By putting advanced fact-checking tools in the hands of the people, we want to make fact checking fun, engaging, and empowering.”

Scottish investigative news site the Ferret is also getting a €50,000 grant, which will be used to develop a more traditional approach to fact checking to meet the “urgent need for a respected fact-checking organisation in Scotland in light of the many falsehoods and distortions prevalent in the run-up to the vote on Britain’s future in Europe”.

The chair of the Ferret, Rob Edwards, said: “This grant will help the Ferret bring its trademark independence and transparent analysis to the debate over Brexit and Scotland’s future place in the world.”

The digital news initiative grants are the second set of handouts from Google’s €150m fund. Another fact-checking project in Italy was also funded, receiving €47,000.

Though most of the debate around fake news has focused on the role of Facebook, Google has also been criticised. Following the US election, people searching for “final election results” were presented with a false story claiming Donald Trump received more votes than Hillary Clinton at the top of the news results.


Jasper Jackson

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
We can't fight fake news without saving local journalism
Local news is often trusted more than national news but it is highly vulnerable to online disinformation

Emily Bell

15, Dec, 2019 @4:08 PM

Article image
EU gives Facebook and Google three months to tackle extremist content
Commission says internet companies also including YouTube and Twitter need to show progress on issue or face legislation

Samuel Gibbs

01, Mar, 2018 @2:42 PM

Article image
Fighting fake news: societies using technology to search for truth
From the Czech Republic to Taiwan, public bodies are combining technology and human expertise to tackle fake news

Kate O'Flaherty

15, Mar, 2017 @6:45 AM

Article image
Support new news providers via a levy on digital giants like Google and Facebook | Letters
Letters: Public interest journalism in particular has been hit the hardest as newspapers are lured into a clickbait culture which favours the sensational and the trivial


11, Nov, 2016 @7:08 PM

Article image
Social media firms serve as gateway for scammers, says finance watchdog
FCA threatens action unless platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram do not toughen up against fraudsters

Kalyeena Makortoff Banking correspondent

28, Sep, 2021 @5:41 PM

Article image
Google and Facebook 'considering ban on micro-targeted political ads'
Reports say firms may act over concerns that practice risks damaging democratic norms

Alex Hern

07, Nov, 2019 @3:17 PM

Article image
Panel debate on what can, or should, be done about fake news
Frontline Club hosts discussion about the phenomenon that has exposed sharp differences between mainstream media and social media

Roy Greenslade

23, Jan, 2017 @12:16 PM

Article image
Closure of Google+: everything you need to know
Social network’s demise has confused many Google users. We answer the key questions

Alex Hern

01, Feb, 2019 @3:39 PM

Article image
The Guardian view on online abuse: building the web we want | Editorial
Editorial: The freedoms of the internet are too often abused. Tech companies need to face up to the problem, and so – in close consultation with their readers – do publishers, including the Guardian


11, Apr, 2016 @12:29 PM

Article image
Fake news or not, the future belongs to Facebook
Imagine the forecasters are right, and that print will die and social media rises to domination. What would the 2042 general election be like then?

Peter Preston

14, May, 2017 @6:00 AM