Coronavirus: Google pledges $6.5M to fact-checkers fighting misinformation and fake news

Misinformation campaigns have ruled the roost since the coronavirus outbreak. Google is stepping in with funds and resources to help fight that.

Google has committed $6.5 million to fact-checkers and nonprofits that are fighting misinformation campaigns surrounding the coronavirus outbreak. The tech giant plans to extend its support to organisations across the world.

In India, Google will be supporting Data Leads (a data-driven storytelling platform) in partnership with fact-checking network BOOM Live (which is also supported by Facebook). "This would be complemented by an effort to train journalists across India to spot health misinformation," Google India announced.

Fact-checking organisations, which typically operate on shoestring budgets, have been struggling with the mountain of misinformation and myths surrounding the deadly coronavirus, which has infected over a million people and counting.

Google is stepping in to curb the spread of any information that is inauthentic. It wants to assist fact-checkers and health authorities to identify topics that users are searching for and where there might be a gap in the availability of credible information online.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai

Google News Initiative (GNI) will ramp up support for First Draft, a nonprofit that offers online resources to journalists and news media covering the COVID-19 outbreak.

First Draft will also be using its vast CrossCheck network "to help newsrooms respond quickly and address escalating content that is causing confusion and harm.

Additionally, the GNI Training Center will also provide tools for data journalism and verification in 16 languages, and Google's global team of Teaching Fellows would be delivering online workshops across 10 languages.

Alexios Mantzarlis, News and Information Credibility Lead, Google News Lab, wrote in the company's official blog,

"Helping the world make sense of this information requires a broad response, involving scientists, journalists, public figures, technology platforms and many others. Collaboration is a crucial component of journalism’s response to a story as complicated and all-encompassing as COVID-19. As fact-checkers address heightened demand for their work, we are providing immediate support to several organisations."

This is only the start of the "several initiatives" Google is undertaking to fight the pandemic. "We look forward to sharing more soon," it stated.

(Edited by Saheli Sen Gupta)