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Google Permanently Bans 200 Sites for Promoting ‘Fake News’

In a blog post by Scott Spencer, director of product management for sustainable ads, posted on Wednesday, Google said it has banned 200 publishers from accessing its Adsense advertising service for posting fake news stories. Google said it had cracked down on sites which contained 1) Ads for illegal products; 2) Misleading ads; 3) Bad ads on mobile; 4) Ads trying to game the system and, 5) Promoting and profiting from bad sites. But the emphasis was on the so-called “fake news” category which has dominated media buzz for the past two months.

This is how Spencer explained his action:

In 2016, we saw the rise of tabloid cloakers, a new type of scammer that tries to game our system by pretending to be news. Cloakers often take advantage of timely topics—a government election, a trending news story or a popular celebrity—and their ads can look like headlines on a news website. But when people click on that story about Ellen DeGeneres and aliens, they go to a site selling weight-loss products, not a news story.

We’ve had long-standing policies prohibiting AdSense publishers from running ads on sites that help people deceive others, like a site where you buy fake diplomas or plagiarized term papers. In November, we expanded on these policies, introducing a new AdSense misrepresentative content policy, that helps us to take action against website owners misrepresenting who they are and that deceive people with their content.

Google has faced criticism over its handling of fake news stories, including allowing a fake news website to rise to the top of its results displaying an incorrect story claiming that President Trump had won the popular vote.

In his post explaining how Google attempted to crack down on “bad ads, sites and scammers,” Spencer explained that Google had expanded its policies against misleading websites in November, leading to the crackdown.

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