Google Removes Fact-Check Feature Targeting Conservative Media

Google says it is discontinuing its fact-check feature because it proved to be too faulty for public use, directly attributing the decision to an investigation by The Daily Caller News Foundation. The company has no date set for when it will return, if ever.

“We launched the reviewed claims feature at the end of last year as an experiment with the aim of helping people quickly learn more about news publications,” a spokeswoman for Google said, while also adding that The Daily Caller News Foundation was the catalyst for the recent move. “We said previously that we encountered challenges in our systems that maps fact checks to publishers, and on further examination it’s clear that we are unable to deliver the quality we’d like for users.”

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There were two main problems with the fact-check widget, which appeared on the sidebar of Google’s search results for very few sites and publications.

First, the legitimate outlets chosen were virtually all ones with conservative audiences. The Daily Caller, for example, was given such treatment, while sites like Vox, Slate, The Huffington Post, Mother Jones, and several others clearly on the left side of the political spectrum were not.

Second, and perhaps most importantly, many of the fact checks were wrong. One of the purported reviewed claims was for an article that straightforwardly reported that yet another member of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigative team was a donor for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former President Barack Obama.

Google attributed the fact check to The Washington Post, something its vice president of communications took issue with.

Screenshot from The Daily Caller News Foundation.

“We went back and double-checked the story and the information submitted to Google, and The Daily Caller was not mentioned at all, even in links,” The Washington Post’s Kristine Coratti said. “We clearly labeled the source, so I cannot speak to how The Daily Caller ended up being erroneously listed as the source of the fact-checked quote in this case.”

After days of back-and-forth with representatives at Google, The Daily Caller News Foundation was told it was probably due to the algorithms, something the company doesn’t talk about as a matter of internal policy.

Google removed that single purported fact check at the time of The Daily Caller News Foundation’s initial inquiries, but there were several others that were also false, if not all of them.

For instance, a “claim” attributed to The Daily Caller by Google’s feature and its third-party fact-checking partner Snopes was “a transgender woman raped a young girl in a women’s bathroom because bills were passed … ”

Screenshot from The Daily Caller News Foundation.

A quick read of the news piece shows there was no mention of a bill or any form of legislation. The story was merely a straightforward reporting of a disturbing incident originally reported on by a local outlet.

The whole program has been suspended for the foreseeable future as of Friday. Google engineers are reportedly heading back to the drawing boards to see how they can vastly improve a fact-check system, while it remains to be seen if the company will abandon the project altogether.

“As we continue to work on addressing this problem and assess how best to serve our users,” the Google spokeswoman continued, “we are putting the experiment on hold.”

Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities for this original content, email licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.

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Washington Post: We Didn’t Attack The Daily Caller, and Don’t Know Why Google Is

Google’s relatively new “fact check” feature proves there’s something fundamentally wrong with at least some of its highly influential algorithms, after an investigation by The Daily Caller News Foundation found that the widget is both blatantly biased and tremendously faulty.

The most powerful search engine in the world and a massive arbiter of online information, Google has been displaying fact checks for conservative publications in its results, while no prominent liberal site receives the same treatment. But even setting aside the exhibition of partisanship, there are other critical and profound problems with the feature.

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One of the “fact checks” on The Daily Caller, which Google alleges was conducted by The Washington Post, was flagrantly misattributed and wrong. The purported “claim” was that in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian influence in the 2016 presidential election, “The people that have been hired are all Hillary Clinton supporters … ”

Screenshot from The Daily Caller News Foundation.

The Daily Caller’s article makes no such claim. The quoted language doesn’t even appear in the piece. Worse yet, there was no language attempting to portray that the investigation is entirely comprised of Clinton donors. The story simply contained the nuts and bolts: Mueller hired a Clinton donor to help with the election probe.

But after further inquiry, the Post says while the fact check did in fact occur, it never once referenced The Daily Caller in any way, raising the question: Why was this fact check attributed to The Daily Caller and how did it end up on the sidebar, which is the first Google-offered resource for information of the publication?

A digital receipt of The Washington Post’s submission to Google’s fact-checking feature shared with The Daily Caller News Foundation.

“We went back and double-checked the story and the information submitted to Google, and The Daily Caller was not mentioned at all, even in links,” Kristine Coratti, vice president of communications at the Post, said. “We clearly labeled the source, so I cannot speak to how The Daily Caller ended up being erroneously listed as the source of the fact-checked quote in this case.”

Google has since removed that single “fact check” from The Daily Caller’s “Reviewed Claims” section, while several other erroneous ones remain and are supposedly being reassessed. The Post’s article is still accessible on Google’s search platform, but only now is the claim ascribed to its rightful owner.

Screenshot from The Daily Caller News Foundation.

Coratti said they are making their own inquiries into the matter because Google’s sloppily concocted project apparently made the Post’s fact-checking column look unduly flawed, at least in this instance.

Other publications with conservative audiences were also unfairly targeted. The Federalist, for example, says it has also been essentially victimized by the feature, calling it “partisan garbage.”

“The revelation that Google is peddling demonstrably fake news, disguised as so-called ‘fact-checking,’ unfortunately comes as no surprise,” Sean Davis, co-founder of The Federalist, said. “In the case of The Federalist, Google declared as ‘incorrect’ the indisputably accurate claim that global temperatures have not risen as quickly as predicted by nearly all climate models.”

He continued:

And it did so by citing as debunked a claim never made by The Federalist and using a fact check that never even mentioned The Federalist. Instead, the so-called ‘fact-checker’ used by Google to smear The Federalist specifically addressed a separate claim made by a CNN contributor nearly three years after The Federalist’s article at issue was published. Google’s new algorithmic smear operation targeted at conservative publications is a pathetic disgrace and everyone associated with it should be ashamed.

The Daily Wire, the flagship news and opinion website of conservative political commentator Ben Shapiro, was also given a “Reviewed Claims” section.

“This is absurd, insulting, and biased beyond belief,” Shapiro said. “To treat Vox.com as an utterly unimpeachable source while targeting conservative equivalents using left-wing fact-checking organizations like Snopes and FactCheck.org demonstrates a shocking level of political corruption.”

Outlets and organizations spared the scrutiny along with Vox include: Slate, ThinkProgress, The Huffington Post, Daily Kos, Mother Jones, Vice, and Salon—all undoubtedly on the other end of the political spectrum.

Occupy Democrats was the only popular blog to be subjected to the fact-check program, but that is less of a bonafide news source and more a content provider with often misleading or incorrect messaging.

“This feature was introduced to help people quickly learn more about publications. Google itself does not fact check stories. Third parties do,” a top Google spokeswoman told The Daily Caller News Foundation.

But if what The Washington Post is saying is true, then someone (or perhaps something) at some point in the process may have maliciously included The Daily Caller in a fact check that had nothing to do with the publication. It’s either that, or Google’s involved algorithms are very defective and biased—something that seems very possible. After all, as Bloomberg’s Leonid Bershidsky wrote in a recent column, “If Google Is Biased, So Are Its Algorithms.”

“We have seen a few instances where our system for associating claims with articles has some issues that will be addressed,” the Google spokeswoman continued. “Fact checks are not designed to show up more often for sites based on any political leanings.”

When asked what the criteria was for originally accepting fact-checkers when the program was first being assembled and established, Google was unable to answer. It did say that other organizations are able to join, and cited how the conservative Weekly Standard is one of the newest members of the International Fact-Checking Network, a unit of the Poynter Institute.

The Weekly Standard’s fact check “went through a vetting process” in order to be a verified signatory of the network, something that Google says it’s not a part of.

Google’s choice of the International Fact-Checking Network as its go-to source for fact-checking shows that it delegates enormous amounts of power, but wants little to none of the responsibility.

Perhaps most importantly, Google’s design of its algorithms shows how imperfect and reckless such a large company could be, even as it explores or invests in highly ambitious and futuristic projects.

Google refused to discuss the details behind the relevant algorithms, citing company policy.

Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities for this original content, email licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.

The post Washington Post: We Didn’t Attack The Daily Caller, and Don’t Know Why Google Is appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Twitter Says Employees Were Openly Speaking of Censorship ‘in a Personal Capacity,’ Not for Company

Twitter says that individuals shown in an undercover video casually talking about how they plan on censoring certain viewpoints on the social media platform were speaking only “in a personal capacity.”

They “do not represent or speak for Twitter,” a company spokeswoman said.

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The video in question, secretly recorded by Project Veritas, shows eight current or former Twitter employees explaining how they will employ algorithms and “shadow banning,” the act of blocking certain unsuspecting users from accessing an online forum, according to the conservative activist organization. The ultimate goal, according to the people with alleged inside information on Twitter, is to squash political beliefs that aren’t acceptable to employees.

“One strategy is to shadow ban so you have ultimate control,” said Abhinov Vadrevu, a former Twitter software engineer. “The idea of a shadow ban is that you ban someone but they don’t know they’ve been banned, because they keep posting and no one sees their content. So they just think that no one is engaging with their content, when in reality, no one is seeing it.”

Twitter as a company denies the veracity of such statements, saying it “does not shadow ban accounts,” but does “take actions to downrank accounts that are abusive, and mark them accordingly so people can still to click through (sic) and see these information if they so choose.”

Providing further detail, the spokeswoman says this means that if such content is marked as abusive, or flagged as inappropriate otherwise, it makes it “less visible on Twitter, in search results, replies, and on timelines.”

“Limiting tweet visibility depends on a number of signals about the nature of the interaction and the quality of the content,” she continued.

What these signals specifically are, however, is not perfectly clear. The overall process, while ostensibly automated, seems liable to subjectivity and the personal whims of a Twitter employee or engineer, as algorithms are designed by humans and thus susceptible to any biases of the creator.

“Yeah, you look for Trump, or America, and you have like 5,000 keywords to describe a redneck,” Pranay Singh, Twitter’s direct messaging engineer, explained on camera. “Then you look and parse all the messages, all the pictures, and then you look for stuff that matches that stuff,” he continued while describing how shadow ban algorithms could be engineered to specifically target right-leaning content.

“I would say majority of it are for Republicans,” he said.

The video has stoked already-impassioned concerns from those not on the left side of the political spectrum, many of whom have long said that tech companies like Twitter, Google, Facebook, and others in Silicon Valley are partisan and deceptive.

“We deplore the deceptive and underhanded tactics by which this footage was obtained and selectively edited to fit a pre-determined narrative,” said the Twitter spokeswoman. “Twitter is committed to enforcing our rules without bias and empowering every voice on our platform, in accordance with the Twitter Rules.”

Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities for this original content, email licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.

The post Twitter Says Employees Were Openly Speaking of Censorship ‘in a Personal Capacity,’ Not for Company appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Google’s New Fact-Check Feature Almost Exclusively Targets Conservative Sites

Google, the most powerful search engine in the world, is now displaying fact checks for conservative publications in its results.

No prominent liberal site receives the same treatment.

And not only is Google’s fact-checking highly partisan — perhaps reflecting the sentiments of its leaders — it is also blatantly wrong, asserting sites made “claims” they demonstrably never made.

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 sidebar 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 the 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.

The Robert Mueller fact check (pictured above) is a case in point for Google’s new feature.

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. The story simply contained the news: Mueller hired a Hillary Clinton donor to aid the investigation into President Donald Trump.

Still, the Washington Post gave the claim, which came from Trump himself, its official “Three Pinocchios” rating. The method applies to several other checks. Claims concocted or adulterated by someone outside the TheDC are attributed to TheDC, in what appears to be a feature that only applies to conservative sites.

Examples of such misattribution and misrepresentation are aplenty.

For instance, using Snopes.com, an organization with highly dubious fact-checking capabilities, Google’s platform shows an article by TheDC to have a so-called “mixture” of truth.

The “claim” made, according to Snopes.com, and in-turn Google, is “a transgender women raped a young girl in a women’s bathroom because bills were passed…”

A quick read of the news piece shows that there was no mention of a bill or any form of legislation. The story was merely a straightforward reporting of a disturbing incident originally reported on by a local outlet. (RELATED: Why is Google CEO Eric Schmidt Technically Serving In The Department Of Defense?)

And like Snopes, another one of Google’s fact-checking partners, Climate Feedback, is not usually regarded as objective.

Snopes and Google also decided to “fact-check” an obviously tongue-in-cheek article in which a writer for TheDC pokes fun at a professor saying the solar eclipse in 2017 was naturally racist.

Even Vox pointed out the absurdity of the educator’s literary tirade on Mother Nature’s purported racial prejudice, and the damage it might have done to real arguments of apparent racism. While Snopes got some flak for its choice, no one seems to have noticed the absurdity of the world’s go-to search engine providing fact-checks to purposefully irreverent content, rather than hard news stories.

Overall, such inclusion embodies Google’s fact-checking services, which, as many presciently feared, are biased, if not also downright libelous. (RELATED: Silicon Valley Seems To Love Burying Conservative News)

Google acknowledged it received an inquiry from TheDCNF, but did not fully respond in time of publication.

The post Google’s New Fact-Check Feature Almost Exclusively Targets Conservative Sites appeared first on The Daily Signal.