Alphabet Inc's Google will invest $300 million over the next three years to a new initiative designed to combat fake news and help support the growth of the journalism industry in the digital age. The company’s Chief Business Officer, Philipp Schindler, announced the new Google News Initiative in a blog post this week.
The move comes as Google, Facebook and Twitter face widespread criticism for their role in the spread of false and misleading stories online during the 2016 U.S. presidential election and Brexit vote. Simultaneously, the journalism industry has struggled to remain profitable in recent years as news consumption shifts online, sparking declines in print circulation and advertising dollars.
Google acknowledged as much in launching the initiative. “While the demand for quality journalism is as high as it’s ever been, the business of journalism is under pressure, as publications around the world face challenges from an industry-wide transition to digital,” said Schindler. He added that Google had a "shared mission" with the journalism industry and wanted to support its future.
A big part of that is fighting fake news. Google says it has already taken steps to recognize misinformation, but now it will go further with the Google News Initiative by rolling out search quality improvements globally this year. To combat fake news during election cycles, Google is launching Disinfo Lab, which will employ journalists and use computational tools to monitor misinformation online. It’s also creating a media literacy project called MediaWise to help young news readers identify misleading information online. It's launching MediaWise with partners including Stanford University.
To support the growth of the journalism business, Google says it's launching a tool to help subscribe to news publications. The platform, called Subscribe with Google, will let users buy a subscription on participating news sites using their Google account, and manage all their subscriptions in one place.
"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,” said Schindler.