There’s been a lot of talk lately about how to stop the spread of “fake news” with news consumers encouraged to investigate the integrity of stories by examining their sources before sharing them social media.
But you have to wonder if there’s much hope when you have outlets like Channel Ten’s The Project getting sucked in.
On Monday, April 18, The Project shared this News.com.au story (in turn a rewrite of an article published by the UK’s Sun newspaper, which is also owned by Rupert Murdoch) on their Facebook page. The article warns viewers about a new Google recruitment site threatening to reveal users’ search history to potential employers. The Project also mentioned it on the show that night.
The problem is the story is bullshit.
While it’s true that Google is developing a new service, Google Hire, the claim the service “could let prospective employers snoop your embarrassing search history” was dreamed up by the journalist who wrote the original article in The Sun.
Add in some scary insinuations that Google plans to reveal readers’ “x-rated browsing” and you’ve got a premium piece of clickbait.
Except that, unlike your Google Plus and YouTube accounts, your search history is private and there’s nothing to suggest that Google would change that.
The only real source on the story, an article on Axios, represents Google Hire as a relatively innocuous recruitment tool along the lines of LinkedIn or Seek. No mention of search histories there.
It would be helpful if Google sought a correction of some kind, but they probably won’t bother.
In the meantime, the attempt to suggest that potential employees would be able to users’ search histories along with their profiles shows either total ignorance of how the services work or a malignant attempt to deceive readers. Stupidity or evil, take your pick.
You can’t really expect much better from The Sun, or even News.com.au for that matter. But The Project claim to hold themselves to some ethical standard.
If such news outlets can’t be bothered to check sources on stories before sharing them on Facebook (or broadcasting them on television), how can you expect normal users to?