In a continuous effort to combat misinformation online, Google has announced an update to its Fact Check Explorer tool, as revealed at the recent Global Fact 10, a fact-checking conference held in Seoul, South Korea. The annual event, hosted by the International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN) and SNUFactCheck, a fact-checking platform in South Korea, was attended by about 500 fact checkers from across the globe.

The update, announced by Mevan Babakar, News and Information Credibility Lead, and Avneesh Sud, Software Engineer at Google Research, expands the functionality of the Fact Check Explorer by incorporating an image search feature in addition to the existing text search.

An Enhancement in Fact Checking

The Fact Check Explorer tool, powered by claim review markup, serves to authenticate information by verifying facts investigated by independent organizations worldwide. The tool aids journalists, fact checkers, and anyone who seeks the truth behind a story.

In response to the demand from fact checkers who found the process of verifying images challenging, Google has introduced a feature that permits approved users to upload or paste the link of any image into the Fact Check Explorer. The tool will then scan the internet to determine whether the image has been previously fact-checked.

The addition of this new feature, currently in its global beta version, is expected to expedite the process of fact checking images worldwide. Beta testers at Global Fact 10 have been invited to examine this feature.

Tackling Misinformation in Image Context

Another notable improvement in the Fact Check Explorer includes the ability to assess the context and timeline of an image, providing insight into when the image was first indexed by Google and its subsequent usage. This feature offers an efficient way to counter one common form of image manipulation, i.e., usage in incorrect contexts.

An example of an image search you can do on the beta Fact Check Explorer. The context search highlights how the image has been associated with different locations over time, across the web.

When an image search is conducted using the Fact Check Explorer, the tool will display an overview of the different topics associated with the image and their evolution over time. This innovative feature is expected to significantly speed up the research process in newsrooms around the world.

Global Fact Check Fund

In tandem with the launch of the Fact Check Explorer’s new features, Google and YouTube announced the first recipients of the Global Fact Check Fund. The tech giants had previously declared a $13.2 million grant to the IFCN for this fund, marking their most significant investment in combating misinformation.

The first round of funding will support over 35 fact-checking organizations from 45 countries. Through this fund and the updated Fact Check Explorer, Google reaffirms its commitment to helping users identify misinformation online and to support the fact-checking community in the long run.

The advancements in the Fact Check Explorer are a testament to Google’s commitment to helping people navigate through the minefield of misinformation and to supporting the critical work of fact-checkers and news organizations. These updates not only augment the tool’s capabilities but also mark a significant step forward in the global fight against disinformation.