Google adds fact-checks to searches for conservative news sites

Google is now including fact-checks in search results for conservative news sites like the Daily Caller. However, the DC reports that prominent liberal sites are not receiving the same treatment from Google.

When searching for a media outlet that leans right, like The Daily Caller (TheDC), Google gives users details on the sidebar, including what topics the site typically writes about, as well as a section titled “Reviewed Claims.”

Vox, and other left-wing outlets and blogs like Gizmodo, are not given the same fact-check treatment. When searching their names, a “Topics they write about” section appears, but there are no “Reviewed Claims.”

In fact, a review of mainstream outlets, as well as other outlets associated with liberal and conservative audiences, shows that only conservative sites feature the highly misleading, subjective analysis. Several conservative-leaning outlets like TheDC are “vetted,” while equally partisan sites like Vox, ThinkProgress, Slate, The Huffington Post, Daily Kos, Salon, Vice and Mother Jones are spared.

Occupy Democrats is apparently the only popular content provider from that end of the political spectrum with a fact-checking section.

There are several questions raised by this story starting with how new this news really is. Google announced last April that the company would start presenting 3rd party fact-checks alongside search results. From a Recode story published last year:

Now, when a search query returns a result that has been reviewed, Google will display who made the claim and if a third-party organization has found it to be true, false or somewhere in between.

The search giant isn’t doing its own fact-checking, but rather relying on nonpartisan websites like Politifact and Snopes that work to assess the veracity of statements made by public officials and news organizations.

It’s not clear if the rollout only now hit the Daily Caller or if the DC is just now noticing it. The next obvious question is why only conservative sites seem to be getting this treatment. Part of the reason may be that Google is relying on Politifact and Snopes (among others). Given Politifact’s history of dubious fact-checks, it seems possible they simply don’t have any material on, say, Mother Jones. But there’s at least one more question about what is going on here raised by the DC story. The Caller reports that some of the fact-checks Google is associating with its site actually misrepresent the stories they are allegedly connected with. Here’s a screengrab:

But the DC points out that their story never made that claim in the first place:

Ostensibly trying to sum up the crux of the post, the third-party “fact-checking” organization says the “claim” in a DC article that special Counsel Robert Mueller is hiring people that “are all Hillary Clinton supporters” is misleading, if not false.

The problem is that TheDC’s article makes no such claim. Their cited language doesn’t even appear in the article. Worse yet, there was no language trying to make it seem that the investigation into the Trump administration and Russia is entirely comprised of Clinton donors.

If you follow the link, you’ll see that the DC story in question actually cites CNN as a source for the claim that “Mueller’s recruits have given more than $53,000 to Democrats since 1988.” Is Google going to associate this fact-check with CNN? A quick search shows CNN doesn’t have any “reviewed claims” associated with the site at all.

If you have any doubt where this is coming from, just read some of the contents of the lawsuit ex-engineer James Damore filed against the company yesterday. It’s pretty clear the staff is chock-full of social justice warriors eager to rid the world of anyone with conservative views.