Google's new Bulletin service will let anyone submit news stories -- but it might make the company's fake-news problem even worse

  • Google launched a new service called Bulletin on Friday; it aims to let people publish stories with text, tags, photos, and video directly to the web through its own app.
  • The idea is for people to contribute “hyperlocal stories about your community, for your community, right from your phone. Bulletin makes it effortless to put a spotlight on inspiring stories that aren’t being told.”
  • Google has come under fire for giving fake news a platform because of an algorithm that doesn’t separate misinformed news from accurate news.
  • The Bulletin app is available only in two cities right now, and users need to request early access for the pilot.

Google just launched Bulletin, a service that aims to let people share news stories that might have gone under the mainstream media’s radar. But while Bulletin is designed to help personalise the Google News experience, it could be a risky move for a company already fighting the “fake news” battle.

Google’s new Bulletin service allows any user with a smartphone and the application to publish text accompanied by tags, images, and video “without having to create a blog or build a website.”

The stories published through the application come up on Google search and can be shared just like any other link. It’s similar to the neighbourhood social network Nextdoor, except without the vetting process, since Google wants to limit the setup process.

“With Bulletin you can contribute to local stories and be the voice of your community!” the website reads.

Interestingly, the app is available only in Nashville, Tennessee, and Oakland, California, right now. And people must request early access, according to the site.

One Reddit user responded to the Bulletin Google post showcasing hers as an example:

Google bulletin reddit sampleGoogle BulletinHere’s what a Reddit user’s ‘Bulletin’ looks like.

In the past year Google has come under a lot of scrutiny for spreading misinformation by pushing fake-news stories to the top of its search algorithm.

Google has said it’s working to improve its algorithm to proliferate verified news, so it will be interesting to see how this new tool plays into that plan.

As of Friday, the published guidelines for the Bulletin community don’t appear to set a precedent for content accuracy.

Google has positioned Bulletin as a follow-up to both the 2017Google News redesign that promised better navigation for news specific to individual users and the Community Updates tool that focuses on local news. But these updates both aggregated existing articles.

“Bulletin is an experimental app that gives people an easy way to tell stories about what is going on around them – ranging from local bookstore readings to high school sporting events to information about local street closures,” Google spokeswoman Maggie Shiels told Business Insider. “We are excited to see how people use the app during this pilot phase.”

No further information was provided about how Google plans to parse through content for misinformation when Bulletin grows beyond the publishers it is working with at launch – or when the app is expected to be available outside of those two cities.

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