Google to spend $6.5 million in fight against coronavirus misinformation

Ed. note: In the swirl of misinformation constituting the “Infodemic” side-effect of the novel coronavirus, Google announced this week it has committed funds to support journalists and help track coronavirus misinformation. The company joins Facebook, who committed $100 million earlier this week to support news outlets, and $1 million to enhance fact checking. It’s a start and a statement. Hopefully other social media outlets, who have thus far failed to remove propaganda from foreign officials – saying it didn’t violate their policies – will follow suit.

Google to spend $6.5 million in fight against coronavirus misinformation


Google announced Thursday that it would spend $6.5 million toward fighting the spread of misinformation around the coronavirus pandemic.

Funding will go toward fact-checkers, news organizations and nonprofits around the world. The money will also help certain news outlets expose and track coronavirus misinformation.

“Helping the world make sense of this information requires a broad response, involving scientists, journalists, public figures, technology platforms and many others,” Alexios Mantzarlis, head of news and information credibility at Google’s News Lab, wrote in a blog announcing the funding.

PolitiFact and Kaiser Health News will use some of the funds to expand their fact-checking efforts, while LatamChequea will provide what Mantzarlis described as a “hub” to help coordinate the work of almost two dozen Spanish-language fact-checking groups.

The funds will also go to similar groups in Germany, France, Spain, Italy and the United Kingdom, and to the International Fact-Checking Network, a global advocacy group.

Part of the money will go toward fellowships at Stanford University to help reporters covering the coronavirus pandemic, and to groups supporting the ability of journalists to access research around the virus.

Google Trends will be made more widely available for reporters, health care workers and law enforcement, with funding to train journalists on how to spot health misinformation.

“Today’s announcement is one of several efforts we’re working on to support those covering this pandemic,” Mantzarlis wrote. “We look forward to sharing more soon.”

Google’s efforts to support journalists and fight misinformation comes as social media companies struggle to rein in coronavirus misinformation.

Twitter last month said it would remove any coronavirus-related posts that promoted fake treatment techniques, that denied expert recommendations or that falsely claimed to represent government authorities.

The platform enforced the policy earlier this week when it took down a post from former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who is now President Trump’s personal lawyer, because he claimed an anti-malaria drug was a safe way to treat the coronavirus.

Facebook announced this week that it would spend $100 million to support the news industry and $1 million to boost fact-checking. The platform, which owns Instagram, has been using educational pop-ups to direct users to reliable sources of coronavirus information such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.