Waterford Whispers gets serious to talk 'fake' news

The satirical site's founder reacts to Facebook and Google's plans to clamp down on false stories spreading across their networks...

Waterford Whispers gets serious to talk 'fake' news

Waterford Whispers

Both Facebook and Google are re-jigging their algorithms in an attempt to stop 'fake' news stories spreading across their platforms.

Google plans to change its policy to ban websites spreading false news stories from using its AdSense advertising network - its system which is used by websites to sell advertising to cash-in on clicks.

This comes days after a fake story stating that Donald Trump was to win the popular vote in the US election rose to the top of Google News searches. The story was published by 70 News - an obscure pro-Trump WordPress blog with only 532 likes on Facebook.

PA

Meanwhile, Facebook has updated its advertising policy to highlight its ban on deceptive and misleading content.

The company's CEO has said that he does not believe that false news or conspiracy theories spread on the social network had an affect on the US presidential election's result.

Ever the cynics, when reached out to for comment Waterford Whispers' editor-in-chief Colm Williamson told Newstalk:

"I was very shocked this morning when I read the articles on how Facebook's plans to deal with 'Fake News sites' ... My fear now is that publications like The Daily Mail, The Sun and Irish Mirror will now suffer as a consequence of this new measure. These sites, regardless of their spoof articles, are important to many people as they sometimes do contain an element of truth in places."

"Last year Facebook mentioned they would "tag" such articles from these publications as 'satire,' yet that was never done to The Daily Mail," he (kind of) joked.

On a more serious note, he added that he believes that companies do need to take action to stop websites monetising from deliberately incorrect stories - but he admits that it is a grey area:

"I think these kind of publications need to be assessed and Facebook and Google are doing the right thing here in clamping down on such content. But then again, where does it end? How does one define reality from satire, from fake news stories?"

The satirical Irish news site has made international headlines in the past when stories such as posts about North Korea claiming to have put a man on the sun and a stampede in a Lidl outlet when an additional till opened were taken up as genuine stories.

"At the end of the day, people will read what they want to read, and I suppose social media platforms should learn to realise that you can't control the spread of information to their users, otherwise they should be forced to rename their businesses as anti-social networks," Mr Williamson concluded.