Over the last few years, calls to act more aggressively on misinformation and hate speech have reached new heights, particularly during COVID-19 and the US election. In fact, it has found its way into our daily vocabulary.
To curb this, Alphabet Inc’s Google has announced to contribute €25M to help launch the European Media and Information Fund to strengthen media literacy skills, combat fake news, and support fact-checking.
Matt Brittin, President, Google Europe, Middle East, and Africa, says, “Our goal is to ensure that you and your family get the information you want, the answers you need and the accuracy you deserve.”
According to Brittin, Google’s five-year commitment will support the work of the European University Institute, the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation and the European Digital Media Observatory to fund organisations seeking to address key challenges such as helping adults and young people strengthen their media literacy skills, supporting and scaling the critical work of fact-checkers, and strengthen the expertise, research and resources to help fight misinformation.
Not effective in combating
This move comes amid the growing criticism that tech giants are not effective to debunk the misinformation online. Notably, the US lawmakers grilled the chief executives of Facebook, Google, and Twitter over the proliferation of disinformation on social media platforms.
Further, the US senators have sent letters to digital ad exchanges questioning whether user data was sold to foreign entities for unethical practices.
Helps fight against fake news
The European Media and Information Fund will provide grants to researchers, fact-checkers, not-for-profit, and other public interest-oriented organisations to help in the fight against fake news.
Brittin continues, “As the first to contribute to the European Media and Information Fund, we welcome and encourage other organizations to follow our lead and support this important work. It is clear there is an unmet demand for funding and research, with fewer than one in 10 Europeans having participated in any form of online media literacy training, according to a recent report.”
No involvement from Google
In the coming weeks, the Fund will open for proposals from academics, nonprofits, and publishers based in the European Union, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. The independent committees, made up of industry experts, will select the winning ideas.
It’s worth noting that Google won’t be involved in any decision-making related to the Fund.
“Since 2015, we’ve provided funding and technical support to organisations focused on misinformation, including innovative new models like CrossCheck in France, and provided digital verification training to 90,000 European journalists, receiving over 400,000 visits to our training website,” informs Brittin.
Supporting media literacy
The search engine giant is also ramping up its efforts through Be Internet Legends and Be Internet Citizens, to support media literacy for young people.
Google.org, the philanthropic arm of Google has provided €3.2 million in funding since 2018 to programs like Newswise, The Student View, and Weitklick, and through the Google News Initiative additional funding to support Students for President and Zeit für Lehrer.