Google has stepped up its fight against “fake news.”
Now when people search Google or News for certain questions or claims, some results will display a “Fact Check” tag to help users better find true information. The Fact Check includes more information about the claim, who made it, and its veracity, though Google doesn’t do the fact-checking itself. The company leaves that to news outlets and professional fact-checking organizations like Politifact and Snopes, according to a Google blog post announcing the new feature.
While the Fact Check feature was previously available only in certain countries for Google News, on Friday the company released its first wide-scale rollout. So VICE News decided to put it to the test.
First, we went through many of the fan favorites from the 2016 election. Several statements made by now-President Donald Trump, such as his claims that Ted Cruz’s father was involved with John F. Kennedy’s assassin Lee Harvey Oswald, that Hillary Clinton laughed at the victim of a child rapist, and that thousands of New Jersey Muslims celebrated the 9/11 attacks were respectively found to be “Pants on Fire,” “No Evidence,” and “Pants on Fire” again.
We tested another claim made during the election: that Barack Obama is secretly Muslim. PolitiFact did not approve.
We also checked out a few recent, rampant conspiracy theories, such as the theory that Hillary Clinton was secretly dying and had only a year left to live, or that Trump once called Republicans the “dumbest group of voters.” Google set us straight on those, too.
Intriguingly, the feature doesn’t seem to work so well with the classics. Recent, one-time claims made by politicians or the “internet” were more likely to be fact-checked than longstanding conspiracy theories. For example, the queries “Was 9/11 an inside job?” and “Was the moon landing real?” don’t immediately pull up fact-checked results. In fact, many of the results seem to confirm, not debunk, those conspiracies.
The Fact Check feature also did not definitively weigh in on one of the greatest questions of our time: “Is Santa real?” Guess we’ll never know for sure.