Google Invests $30M to Combat Fake News in Europe

Google announced on Wednesday that it would contribute €25 million ($29.3 million) to the newly established European Media and Information Fund to fight fake news.

The contribution comes amid criticism that Google isn't doing enough to combat online misinformation, which spiked during the COVID-19 pandemic and during last year's election in the United States.

The fund will include grants to academics, fact-checkers, non-profits, and other public-interest groups focusing on misinformation analysis and improving media literacy and fact-checking over a five-year period.

“While navigating the uncertainty and challenges of the last year, it has proven more important than ever for people to access accurate information, and sort facts from fiction,” said Matt Brittin, head of Google’s business & operations, in a blog post.

Britain cited a recent study that found that only about one out of every ten Europeans has undergone any sort of online media literacy training.

Google's contribution comes at a time when the European Union is putting a lot of pressure on tech companies over online content. In December 2020, the European Commission, the bloc's executive branch, issued sweeping recommendations proposing new obligations for digital networks over the content they host.

The elimination of illicit products, facilities, and information, as well as advertisement disclosure measures and responsibilities for large platforms, are among the new regulations in the Digital Services Act, which must be approved by the European Council and European Parliament.

Tech companies could face severe fines for noncompliance, with a very large online platform facing fines of up to 6% of global revenue for a serious breach of the rules. An oversight structure will also be established, with the ability to directly sanction platforms that reach more than 10% of the EU’s population of 45 million users.

The Digital Services Act is expected to directly impact Alphabet, which owns the world’s two most popular search engines in Google and YouTube, and Facebook, the largest social media network with more than 2.5 billion monthly active users.