Business

Google pledges $300m to support journalism and fight fake news

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Google has said it will invest $300m in helping news organisations to fight fake news and grow their businesses.

The search engine giant will also invest in new technological tools to enhance online news consumption.

The firm, which some argue has taken advertising money away from newspapers, acknowledged journalism was "under pressure" in the digital age.

However, it said it had a "shared mission" with the industry and wanted to support its future.

The search giant said it had already tweaked its search algorithms to recognise "misinformation", but would now go further.

In the past Google itself has been criticised for promoting fake articles, for example, in 2017 claiming that the shooter who killed more than 50 people in Las Vegas was a Democrat who opposed Donald Trump.

It said will now launch an initiative called Disinfo Lab, which will "use computational tools and journalistic oversight to monitor misinformation during elections".

It has also launched a project called MediaWise - in partnership with Stanford University among others- to help young news readers "distinguish fact from fiction online".

A struggling industry

Philipp Schindler, Google's chief business officer, said the firm was working "closely with the news industry to drive sustainable growth".

Many print media organisations have been hit hard as journalism has moved online over the last 15 years and print circulation has dwindled.

According to research from OC&C last year, by 2020 Google and Facebook are expected to take 71% of all the money spent in the UK on digital advertising.

Mr Schindler said Google had launched a new initiative called Subscribe with Google, which will allow readers sign up for paid subscriptions from partner publishers with a single click.

He also promised to do more to help news portals enhance the news reading experience online, for example, with its fast loading mobile web pages.

He flagged another example, in which Google worked with the South China Morning Post to provide immersive VR experiences that showed the evolution of Hong Kong throughout history.

"This is just the beginning. We want to continue working closely with publishers to experiment on new ways they can reach audiences and produce impactful storytelling," Mr Schindler said.

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