Google took steps against 340 fake news site in November and December, the company said as part of a report on fraudulent advertising Wednesday. Close to 200 of those sites were permanently banned from using Google ads, the company said.
Google, much like Facebook, has been under increased scrutiny for its role in the spreading of false and misleading news ever since the presidential election in November. The company responded to this the same month with changes to its Adsense policy, prohibiting sites that “misrepresent, misstate, or conceal information about the publisher, the publisher’s content, or the primary purpose” of the site to use Google ads for monetization.
Google said on Wednesday that it had reviewed some 550 sites since those policy changes, resulting in permanent bans for nearly 200 and temporarily cutting off another 140 sites from the company’s ad dollar spigot.
The company also revealed that it took down 1.7 billion ads for various policy violations in 2016. This included 17 million ads for illegal gambling, 5 million payday load ads and 80 million misleading or shocking ads.
As much as cutting off ad revenue may hurt so-called fake news sites, critics are likely not going to be content with this step alone. Google has increasingly been criticized for the way its algorithms highlight certain news sources as well.
For instance, in November, the first Google result for “who won the popular vote” was a conspiracy blog misrepresenting the outcome of the election. And in December, the search engine highlighted a made-up story about President Obama supposedly looking to a third term.