A common issue on the internet that really has exploded in the last year is the proliferation of fake news websites and what has become a fight to get facts out to the general public. While the internet has always been littered with misinformation since its inception, the past year has really seen this issue grow out of control. This is largely due to the monetization of fake news websites, but thankfully both Facebook and Google are working on solutions to help curb this problem.
This week Google announced it has removed over 1.7 BILLION ads from its advertising network. Over 200 publishers, and over 350 websites have been permanently banned from the Google advertising system, preventing them from generating revenue via the advertising network. The root of the fake news issue is all about money. People are generating fake news websites with stories that have sensationalist type headlines and then sharing them often through social media sites such as Facebook. When a person clicks on the news story to read it, they are taken to a website that has banner ads all over it, along with the story itself. And, each time the story is loaded, the owner of the website generates a small amount of revenue from this banner ad, paid to them often by google.
Why does google pay for displaying ads? It's one of the primary ways google makes money. They operate advertising networks that sell ad space to advertisers of goods and services, and then display these ads on millions of websites across the globe, depend on the advertisers requirements. So the advertiser pays google, and then google pays the website owner displaying the ad. This tiny payment really grows exponentially though if the website writes a fake news story that explodes on social media. In fact many fake news sites are generating tens of thousands of dollars in ad revenue off of just one big news story.
Now that Google and Facebook have agreed to really crack down on this, we should hopefully start to see the trend of fake news websites start to drop, as they start to loose their revenue streams.