Google wants to make it easier for people to find fact checks. To do that, the company is building another version of what it’s most known for: a search engine.
On Tuesday, the Google News Initiative launched the beta version of a tool that’s specifically for fact-checking content. The feature, which the company has been working on for months, uses the same signals as other Google products, such as Google News, to surface work from fact-checkers like Snopes and (Poynter-owned) PolitiFact.
“The goal here is to have fact-checking journalists have an easier job of locating all the work that fact-checkers have done on a specific topic,” said Cong Yu, a research scientist at Google. “For users, it’s if you want to know more about a certain topic.”
The product alpha launched about six months ago, when fact-checking organizations started using it and giving Google feedback.
Full Fact, a fact-checking charity based in the United Kingdom, was one of those organizations. While she didn’t test the fact-checking search engine directly, Mevan Babakar, Full Fact’s head of automated fact-checking, told Poynter in an email that, while the tool could be useful for collecting fact checks, it could also have unintended consequences.
“Fact checks become out of date — this isn’t as big a problem when the opening times of your local store is out of date, but when it comes to political statements that may shape elections we have to treat it more urgently,” she said. “Mostly we all check claims, not
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