The fake news advertising problem has now spread to fact-checking websites as Google put fake news advertisements on pages such as Snopes and PolitiFact, the New York Times reported.
“The fake news ads were served up by the search engine giant’s AdWords system which automatically places ads based on a target audience,” The Times said on Wednesday.
The ads had fake headlines such as “Melania Trump is leaving the White House!”, “Televangelist Joel Osteen is leaving his wife!” and once clicked, it would take users to websites that mimicked legitimate publications like People or Vogue.
“The fake stories began with headlines and large photos of the celebrities in question, but after a few sentences, they transitioned into an ad for an anti-aging skin cream,” the report added.
It is unclear how the clickbait-style news ads were served on Snopes and PolitiFact. Google did not comment on how the ads were approved.
“As always, when we find deceptive ad practices on our platforms, we move swiftly to take action, including suspending the advertiser account if appropriate,” Suzanne Blackburn, a Google spokeswoman, was quoted as saying.
Tech giants such as Facebook, Google and Twitter are already facing criticism for failing to curb the spread of fake news.
Google had earlier found evidence of Russian influence in the 2016 US Presidential election.