How to Find Out If a “Local” Newspaper Site Is Fake (Using a New-ish Google Feature)

As you may know, one of the great innovations of the 2016 election season was the use of fake “local” papers like the Denver Guardian to spread fake news:


The Denver Guardian, as we all now know, was a completely fake site that only published this single page. The page was shared on Facebook over a half a million times and became one of the most shared stories of the final weeks of the election.

This technique was relatively new to the political realm in 2016, but had been a staple of a bunch of “stranger than fiction” fake stories before 2016.

So how do you know if the local paper you’re looking at is really a real paper from that area? The recommendation of the Snopes folks at a recent misinformation conference was to approach it from the other direction — grab a list of papers for that state or city and see if it is on it.

They used Wikipedia, but it looks like Google has made it even easier than that. Because if you type in [denver newspapers] into Google, this is what you get:


It’s a bit small, but if you can see the image above there are 13 papers associated with Denver, and none of them is named the “Guardian”. For local papers, this search move now provides a 30 second check you can execute to check the veracity of a story.

It works for many non-American cities as well:


Though some revert to the Wikipedia list:


Incidentally, I hope we see more of this sort of thing from Google. I want better search results and credibility indicators, but I also want simple tools for the 30-second researcher. And this is exactly what those tools should look like. Whether this was intentional or not I don’t know, but this tool takes the current practice of fact-checkers, and makes it easily accessible to a general public.

More please. Perhaps a siteinfo: term next? Please?

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