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Google Adds New Tools to Help Limit the Spread of Misinformation Online

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Google Adds New Tools to Help Limit the Spread of Misinformation Online


With International Fact-Checking Day coming up on April 2nd, Google has provided a new overview of its evolving efforts to detect misinformation online, and limit the reach of false reports in partnership with its fact-checking partners.

Google has significantly ramped up its efforts to address misinformation, with a range of Search upgrades and alerts to help users better understand the sources that they’re connecting with for updates.

And now, Google’s bringing more tools to the fight.

First off, Google’s adding a new notice on evolving news stories which will alert searchers that the facts are still being clarified.

As you can see in this example, the new alerts, rolling out for English-language searches in the US, will make the searcher aware of the evolving nature of the story, and will include tips to help the user evaluate information online, like a reminder of the importance of relying trusted sources.

Small prompts like this are often all that’s required to get users to take a moment of pause for clarity on such, before re-distributing false narratives, while it could also serve as a learning tool to improve digital literacy, by underlining the dangers of trusting everything that you read online.

Google’s also adding a new ‘Highly Cited’ label to help users find the source info for major news stories.

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Google Highly Cited tag

As explained by Google:

“Let’s say a local news organization breaks an investigative story looking into problems at your local school district. The story is so big that it gets picked up by numerous other media outlets. But what if you didn’t see that original story, which had unique context for local residents? We’re introducing a way to help you identify stories that have been frequently cited by other news organizations, giving you a simple way to find the most helpful or relevant information for a news story.”

The new label will appear on Top Stories, while everything from articles, to interviews to press releases will be eligible for the new tag.

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And aside from promoting key source research, Google’s also hoping that it will help to elevate original reporting, “making it even easier for people to discover and engage with the publishers and journalists whose work brings unique value to a story.”

The highly cited label is launching soon on mobile in English for the US, with other regions to follow in the coming weeks.

In addition to these upgrades, Google also suggests that Searchers familiarize themselves with its Fact Check Explorer tool, which enables users to search for any topic that they have questions about, and cross-references over 150,000 fact checks to provide more context.

Google Fact Check Explorer

While you can also cross-check the history of any website via the Search results page.

Google page history

Google also highlights its continued support of a number of fact-checking programs through its Google News Initiative, helping to enhance the expertise available to examine and verify online information.

Which is a battle that can never be won, not fully, as the rapid pace of online publishing makes it impossible to completely stop the spread of false and misleading information, either via bad actors or unwitting users and publications. But it can be slowed significantly. With the right systems in place, Google, as well as all the other major platforms, can detect and limit the spread of potentially harmful untruths, and stop them from gaining viral traction, which is the key focus of initiatives like this.

Still, Google-owned YouTube remains a key source of misinformation, while Google also inadvertently funds many click-bait farms through its ad tools. As such, it clearly has a way to go in addressing these elements, but every step is another move in the right direction, and it’s good to see Google continuing to evolve its fact-checking programs, especially as people increasingly rely on online sources over more traditional (legacy?) news outlets.

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You can read more about Google’s evolving fact-checking and misinformation detection efforts here.  

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Twitter Tests New Bitmoji Integration to Display Your Digital Character as Your Twitter Profile Image

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Twitter Tests New Bitmoji Integration to Display Your Digital Character as Your Twitter Profile Image

This is interesting – Twitter is experimenting with a new integration that would enable users to display their Bitmoji character as their Twitter profile image, providing another way to use your digital avatar as a representation of yourself.

As you can see in this image, posted by app researcher Alessandro Paluzzi, Twitter’s testing out a new Bitmoji integration within the profile image upload flow, with an ‘Add Bitmoji’ button to connect your Bitmoji account.

Which, of course, would also link your Twitter profile to Snapchat, which owns Bitmoji. Essentially, this integration would provide a direct link between your Snapchat profile, where you create your Bitmoji character, and Twitter, which may be the first time that the two platforms have partnered on a direct integration of this type.

That’s interesting in terms of competition, given the two platforms operate in a competitive space. But at the same time, Twitter doesn’t have its own native avatar creation tools, as yet, and the integration with Bitmoji likely suggests that it’s not looking to add such, instead leaning on Snap’s character creation tools to enable another means of expression with your Twitter presence.

Snapchat’s been looking to make its Bitmoji characters a bigger part of the in-app experience, even launching a range of branded Bitmoji clothing options to provide more ways for users to express their identity in the app.

Bitmoji fashion example

The expanded view is that users will come to rely on these digital caricatures as another means of expression. And as we move towards the metaverse future, where we’ll all be interacting via digital puppets, maybe that will then endear users enough to their Bitmoji characters to adopt them as their primary digital avatars to be used across these new, immersive spaces.

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Which is why expanding them to Twitter as well makes a lot of sense, in enhancing that connection and affiliation with the depiction.

We asked Twitter about the experiment, and it provided us with this statement:

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We are always exploring new ways for people to express themselves on the platform. We don’t have further details to share at this time.”

So nothing to go on yet, but it is an area that Twitter’s exploring – and in a world where Twitter users are increasingly using random images of monkeys, goblins, and other cartoon characters as their profile images in the app, a Bitmoji integration seems to make a lot of sense.

It could be another stepping stone to the metaverse, and a future where we interact in totally new ways.

We’ll keep you updated on any progress.



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