The fake news problem is anything but fake. It has flooded all social media platforms and remains an issue that many still believe shaped the results of the 2016 American election. Well, turns out that Microsoft’s Bing also had a fake news problem. One YouTube channel gamed the Microsoft Search engine and flooded it with hoaxes and fake news videos (via The Verge.)
The problem at heart in the situation happened to be with the Bing autofill feature. For example, when a user clicks on the News section of Bing, the search bar can be auto-filled with a “Top Stories” suggestion. After clicking through, the same “top stories” query will then follow the user and autofill through other sections of the search engine, including Maps, Images, and more importantly, videos.
It is the videos section where “Top Stories” goes a bit rogue and linked users to fake news videos from the “Top Stories Today” YouTube channel. According to The Verge, examples of fake videos from the channel included “Breaking: Germany demands immediate prosecution of Obama” and “Russian is about to take out Obama permanently.” These videos reportedly racked up 83.6 million views, and are obviously aimed to promote Donald Trump and criticize Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.
Microsoft has since removed this YouTube channel from the search results, and at the time of writing, we were unable to find these videos via a “Top Stories” query in Bing Videos. Instead, we were linked to videos to the USA Today YouTube channel, a much more reliable source. Searches for “Top News today,” though, still linked us to fake news videos. Microsoft provided the following statement about this issue:
“As soon as we become aware of this type of content, we take action to remove it from news search results, which we are doing in this case.”
Bing previously received a Fact Check label feature to help users identify fake news, but the label only applied to web searches and not videos. Safe to say that Microsoft may have learned a lesson in this instance. Do you think that Bing needs more fact checking features? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.