We’ve discovered that Google is still listing spoof websites as real news in its “In the news” section that appears at the top of search engine results.
In September 2015 we reported that a viral rumour about rock band Survivor suing Kim Davis for unauthorised use of their Eye of the Tiger song was getting extra credibility because – bizarrely – Google listed the story, from a known spoof news website, in their News section.
Google’s news section is supposed to be limited to websites reporting on current events, and the search engine giant has an extensive list on what websites can and cannot do to be eligible to appear there. We would imagine that reporting on news that actually happened would rank quite high on that list.
Apparently not, since it seems that Google haven’t corrected their glaring mistake, as now they are listing another spoof article (below) in their news section, this time a story that claims review website Yelp are suing the creators of animated series South Park over their latest episode. (We’re not sure what it is that Google News loves about people suing other people.)
And to add insult to injury, it is the same spoof website that published both the stories. NBC.com.co was created in 2015, and has nothing to do with the actual NBC brand at all. They deal exclusively with spoof news, masquerading as satire, but apparently designed to trick readers into thinking the articles are real.
The site has had many of its spoof articles spread virally through social media. Not only the Kim Davis/Survivor story (that accumulated hundreds of thousands of shares) but also a story that President Obama passed a bill called the ‘Mass Shooting Bill’ and a story about US companies hiring mercenaries to “hunt down ISIS members.”
We’re always trying to tackle the surge of spoof news that seems to be plaguing the Internet and social media of late, but it really doesn’t help when the spoof articles starting the rumours in the first place are given the much coveted position at the top of Google’s search results in the ‘In the News’ segment.