October 1, 2017

How Google is helping to fake the news

Alternet - In June, Google announced major changes in their algorithm designed to combat fake news. Ben Gomes, the company’s vice president for engineering, stated in April that Google’s update of its search engine would block access to “offensive" sites, while working to surface more “authoritative content.”

This seemed like a good idea. Fighting fake news, which Trump often uses, is an important goal that we share.

But little did we know that Google had decided, perhaps with bad advice or wrong-headed thinking, that media like AlterNet—dedicated to fighting white supremacy, misogyny, racism, Donald Trump, and fake news—would be clobbered by Google in their clumsy attempt to address hate speech and fake news.

We have had years of consistent search traffic averaging 2.7 million unique visitors a month, over the past two and a half years. But since the June Google announcement, AlterNet’s search traffic plummeted by 40 percent—a loss of an average of 1.2 million people every month who are no longer reading AlterNet stories.

AlterNet is not alone. Dozens of progressive and radical websites have reported marked declines in their traffic. But AlterNet ranks at the top in terms of audience loss because we have a deep archive by producing thousands of news articles for 20 years. And we get substantial traffic overall—typically among the top five indy sites.

So the reality we face is that two companies, Google and Facebook—which are not media companies, which do not have editors, or fact checkers, which do no investigative reporting—are deciding what people should read, based on a failure to understand how media and journalism function.


Anonymous said...

Hmmm... Who wrote this post?
I tried to click on the AlterNet LINK, and was merely sent to a site asking for donations.
I'd like to read original article, by whom ever it was.

Sam Smith said...

Sorry. This was origianlly a letter but here is the subsequent editorial