Google has introduced a new tag to highlight fact-checking coverage from organisations such as Full Fact and Politifact alongside daily stories.
The tag will come up when readers access the expanded story box in Google News, which includes other links alongside the main headline, tagged as 'most cited', 'in depth' or 'local source'.
It currently works for articles read on desktop and through the Google News and Weather apps on Android and iOS in the US and the UK.
Breaking news stories and political events such as the UK referendum and the upcoming US elections have highlighted a need for fact-checking time and time again, and while some publishers are putting more effort behind it, one of the main challenges remains people's ability to find this type of coverage online.
It makes us enter the debate in a way that lets us be part of the group, like the big news organisations, but still allows us to be perpendicular to the debate and actually stand out in a different wayMevan Babakar, Full Fact
Mevan Babakar, digital products manager at Full Fact, told Journalism.co.uk the new tag in Google News could "help put fact-checking a bit more on the map".
She said people currently find Full Fact content through social media and search engines, but it very much depends on what individual issues readers care about, as that will prompt them to share it with their colleagues, friends, campaigners and others who might have similar interests.
"It's especially great for us because discoverability is quite hard, since we're a charity and we don't have as much Facebook or advertising power behind our articles. Having this label gives us extra incentives to be newsy and current.
"It makes us enter the debate in a way that lets us be part of the group, like the big news organisations, but still allows us to be perpendicular to the debate and actually stand out in a different way."
Google will determine whether an article is suitable to be tagged as 'fact-check' by looking for the schema.org ClaimReview markup in the code, a method for structuring data in the back-end of a website so it can be easily read by machines and software.
The markup has to be adopted by any publisher who wants to have their fact-checking work displayed with the new tag in Google News.
Babakar explained the ClaimReview markup consists of a variety of tags which separate elements such as the claim being fact-checked, the conclusion being drawn, who made the statement and the actual fact-checks written.This helps Google quickly identify the type of coverage Full Fact produces and pull the relevant information from the website.
Structuring the databases containing people's fact-checks around the world is also part of a wider aim at Full Fact to build tools to automate the fact-checking process, she added.
Hopefully this will propel fact-checking forward and show people it's happening, and happening fast, and it's here to help them make up their mindsMevan Babakar, Full Fact
"A lot of fantastic work is happening in fact-checking organisations but it's big blocks of text and all the interesting details like who is making the claim and whether it was repeated are kind of lost, because they comes as a huge chunk of text that isn't so easily extractable."
For the time being, the organisation's approach will stay the same, Babakar said, but the team will look for ways to focus more on stories as they enter the news cycle, as long as it does not have a negative impact on the accuracy of the information presented, which remains the number one priority.
"We've always tried to balance the news cycle against larger, ongoing debates, such as the junior doctors one. Something like that will spike at various points in time, but there is a lot of stuff happening in the background that will need explainers and fact-checks over a longer period.
"Hopefully this will propel fact-checking forward and show people it's happening, and happening fast, and it's here to help them make up their minds."
Free daily newsletter
- The hidden threats in taming tech by law
- The modern journalist needs a toolbox of technology to compete in the digital age
- UK independent news producer buys Belgian broadcaster ahead of Brexit
- What place does Snapchat have in the newsroom as a tool for breaking news?
- Does your news organisation have under 500 employees? If so, you could get your hands on the latest Google cloud technology — for free