Global search engine giant Google on Friday announced that it was committing $6.5 million to fight COVID-19 fake news worldwide. The Mountain View-based company will provide this funding to fact-checkers and nonprofit organizations fighting misinformation around the world, “with an immediate focus on coronavirus.” As part of this global initiative, Google said it will also train Indian journalists to spot health misinformation. The goal is to cut through the clutter of ‘overabundant’ information and offer ‘reliable’ guidance to people about the coronavirus pandemic.
This starts with Google’s in-house News Initiative (GNI) which is essentially the company’s collaborative initiative with the news industry, primarily with regards to digital media. Google said it was ‘stepping up’ its support for First Draft, which is a nonprofit organization specializing in training and crisis simulations for journalists using tools like ‘online resource hub.’
Google said it was providing ‘immediate’ support to several fact-checking organizations around the world to help reduce the spread of ‘harmful’ false information. These include Full Fact and Maldita.es in Europe (focusing on countries with the most coronavirus cases including Italy, Spain, Germany, France and the UK), and CORRECTIV in Germany.
Part of Google’s funding will also go to the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s and the Australian Science Media Centre, to devise tools that will make it easier for journalists to access expert sources during an evolving public health crisis like the novel coronavirus. Moreover, Google will also support the creation of a database for reporters in partnership with the journalism technology nonprofit Meedan and public health experts.
In India, Google will support Data Leads, a digital media and information initiative that’s aimed to build data-driven storytelling, in partnership with BOOM Live, in addition to training journalists to spot misinformation.
Lastly, Google said it was also ‘experimenting’ with how to best include a dedicated fact check section in the COVID-19 Google News experience.
Even as novel coronavirus continues to wreak havoc around the world, misinformation or fake news around it, is also on the rise — spreading like wildfire. With no official cure in sight, as of now, misinformation or fake news around COVID-19 could prove to be as dangerous as the virus itself. More and more tech companies with the right resources and R&D, like Google and Facebook, are coming up to fight the curb of coronavirus fake news around the world. Google and Facebook also happen to be the one of the biggest sources of online information — and misinformation — so it’s nice to see these companies stepping up their game in these challenging times. But there’s still a long way to go.