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News Brief: June updates from the Google News Initiative

Last month, we expanded journalist training in India to combat misinformation, invested in startups growth in Latin America, learned about innovative news projects around the world and more. Read on for June updates.Combating misinformation in IndiaIn India, DataLEADS, our Google News Initiative training network partner, completed a 35-day virtual roadshow to provide digital verification skills…

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Last month, we expanded journalist training in India to combat misinformation, invested in startups growth in Latin America, learned about innovative news projects around the world and more. Read on for June updates.

Combating misinformation in India

In India, DataLEADS, our Google News Initiative training network partner, completed a 35-day virtual roadshow to provide digital verification skills to over 4,000 people. More than 700 organizations took part in workshops focused on tackling misinformation related to COVID-19 vaccines.

Supporting news startups in Latin America

The Google News Initiative Startups Lab is expanding to Spanish-speaking Latin America, in partnership with SembraMedia. Through direct funding and an intensive six-month curriculum, the Lab will help a group of up to 12 early-stage digital news businesses develop financial sustainability and growth. This builds on lessons learned from the Startups Labs in Brazil and North America. 

Last month, we also released a Spanish version of the Google News Initiative Startups Playbook, a guide to building a successful digital news business from scratch.

Engaging with the global news community through Newsgeist

Together with other news industry leaders, we organized a virtual, week-long version of Newsgeist, an opportunity to connect with the global news community to discuss relevant topics, share projects and initiatives and tackle challenging problems facing the news industry together. The event brought together more than 600 journalists, business leaders, tech leaders, academics and others for a discussion about the state and future of the news industry

Collaborating on AI literacy

Over the next six months, 24 international news organizations will take part in a collaborative experiment across Asia Pacific, Europe and the Americas. The program was developed  in partnership with Polis, the London School of Economics and Political Science’s journalism think tank, through JournalismAI, our efforts to strengthen AI literacy within newsrooms, and convene the industry around common challenges and opportunities.

Learning from Innovation Challenge recipients

Building on the Digital News Innovation Fund in Europe, Google News Initiative Innovation Challenges have supported more than 180 projects that inject new ideas into the news industry. Around the world, we’re learning from former Innovation Challenge recipients who are using their funding to drive innovation in news.

  • Word in Black chose Juneteenth, the anniversary of the day the last slaves were freed in the U.S., to launch a new website and newsletter for Black communities in collaboration with the Local Media Foundation

  • AnyClip combines artificial intelligence and search tools to provide video analytics for content providers. The Israeli startup has raised an additional $47 million to build out its platform and expand business after seeing 600% growth in the last year.

  • Socialbeat is an Italian startup developed through a collaboration between Accenture and Italian publisher SESAAB. With the help of a recent investment, they’ll continue to enhance their AI-powered software platform for aggregation and content selection.

  • The Sicilian Post created the ARIA project, which allows journalists to automatically create illustrative graphics using data. This month, they hosted a workshop to introduce participants to the project at an Italian conference

Using AI to moderate content

The changing legal and political environment in Europe, as well as growing extremism and polarization in society, means that moderation tools are often inadequate for modern journalism. In light of these factors, Wirtualna Polaska built a moderation engine using Google Cloud tools to help ease the burden on content moderators and provide a safe platform for open discussion in Poland. 

Helping European publishers grow their digital revenue

In partnership with WAN-IFRA, we’re launching the 2021-2022 Table Stakes Europe program designed to help European publishers drive digital revenue growth by focusing on putting audiences first. Applications are now open and will operate on a rolling basis. The program is scheduled to begin in December 2021 and will run for nine months.

That’s a wrap for June. Follow along on social and sign up for our newsletter for more updates.

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Survey shows how people decide what to trust online

Alex Mahadevan is director of MediaWise at the Poynter Institute. He has taught digital media literacy to thousands of middle and high schoolers, and has trained hundreds of journalists from around the world in verification and digital investigative tools. We caught up with Alex to find out about a recent information literacy survey his organization…

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Alex Mahadevan is director of MediaWise at the Poynter Institute. He has taught digital media literacy to thousands of middle and high schoolers, and has trained hundreds of journalists from around the world in verification and digital investigative tools. We caught up with Alex to find out about a recent information literacy survey his organization conducted in partnership with YouGov, with support from Google. Learn more about how Google is working on information literacy and helping you spot misinformation online.

Why was this survey conducted?

Misinformation isn’t a new problem, but it’s becoming increasingly difficult to separate fact from fiction, especially on the internet. We wanted to learn more about how people across generational lines verify information and decide what to trust and share online. And we knew this research would help us expand on the educational resources MediaWise has to offer.

What were the parameters for the survey?

We surveyed more than 8,500 respondents of various ages in the United States, Brazil, the United Kingdom, Germany, Nigeria, India and Japan. We asked a wide range of questions aimed at assessing information literacy skills and verification habits. Those include queries about everything from the tools and techniques someone uses to investigate a post they see online, to the reasons why they may have shared misleading information in the past.

What are some of the biggest takeaways?

The survey found that 62% of respondents think they see false or misleading information on at least a weekly basis – that’s a staggering number. And people are aware that it’s a serious issue. Roughly 50% of all Gen X, Millennial and Gen Z respondents (these are people ages 18 to 57) said they’re concerned about their family being exposed to it.

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New ways we’re helping you find high-quality information

AI models are also helping our systems understand when a featured snippet might not be the most helpful way to present information. This is particularly helpful for questions where there is no answer: for example, a recent search for “when did snoopy assassinate Abraham Lincoln” provided a snippet highlighting an accurate date and information about…

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AI models are also helping our systems understand when a featured snippet might not be the most helpful way to present information. This is particularly helpful for questions where there is no answer: for example, a recent search for “when did snoopy assassinate Abraham Lincoln” provided a snippet highlighting an accurate date and information about Lincoln’s assassination, but this clearly isn’t the most helpful way to display this result.

We’ve trained our systems to get better at detecting these sorts of false premises, which are not very common, but are cases where it’s not helpful to show a featured snippet. We’ve reduced the triggering of featured snippets in these cases by 40% with this update.

Information literacy

Beyond designing our systems to return high-quality information, we also build information literacy features in Google Search that help people evaluate information, whether they found it on social media or in conversations with family or friends. In fact, in a study this year, researchers found that people regularly use Google as a tool to validate information encountered on other platforms. We’ve invested in building a growing range of information literacy features — including Fact Check Explorer, Reverse image search, and About this result — and today, we’re announcing several updates to make these features even more helpful.

Expanding About this result to more places

About this result helps you see more context about any Search result before you ever visit a web page, just by tapping the three dots next to the result. Since launching last year, people have used About this result more than 2.4 billion times, and we’re bringing it to even more people and places – with eight more languages including Portuguese (PT), French (FR), Italian (IT), German (DE), Dutch (NL), Spanish (ES), Japanese (JP) and Indonesian (ID), coming later this year.

This week, we’re adding more context to About this result, such as how widely a source is circulated, online reviews about a source or company, whether a company is owned by another entity, or even when our systems can’t find much info about a source – all pieces of information that can provide important context.

And we’ve now launched About this page in the Google app, so you can get helpful context about websites as you’re browsing the web. Just swipe up from the navigation bar on any page to get more information about the source – helping you explore with confidence, no matter where you are online.

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Finding community and customers through Growth Academy: Women Founders

With thousands of highly-valued tech companies, a global-first market approach, and a strong economy dominated by entrepreneurship, it’s clear why Israel’s nickname is ‘The Startup Nation.’However, this thriving startup ecosystem isn’t equally supportive of all aspiring founders. According to the latest Israeli Tech Gender Distribution Report, spearheaded by Google for Startups and IVC Data and…

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With thousands of highly-valued tech companies, a global-first market approach, and a strong economy dominated by entrepreneurship, it’s clear why Israel’s nickname is ‘The Startup Nation.’

However, this thriving startup ecosystem isn’t equally supportive of all aspiring founders. According to the latest Israeli Tech Gender Distribution Report, spearheaded by Google for Startups and IVC Data and Insights, only 2% of startups with a woman founder raised above $50 million between 2018 and 2021. While the number of entirely women-led companies has doubled in the past decade, they still only comprise 6.3% of Israeli startups — and only 13.9% of startups had at least one woman co-founder in a mixed-gender founding team.

I fall into the latter category. My cofounder Gal Benbeniste and I met during college, where we bonded over how outdated the investment world is. What started with trying to figure out a simple way to automate became FinityX, a deep-tech startup that helps investors implement AI tools as part of their investment process to save time and resources, and improve quality.

While I have been humbled by FinityX’s rapid growth and recognition, as one of the very few women in the deep-tech space I’ve always wanted to be able to access the same capital, business networks, and mentorship readily available to my male cofounder.

So I was thrilled when Google for Startups launched a Growth Academy program tailored specifically for the needs of early-stage women founders. Based on the successful Startup Growth Lab curriculum, the program includes leadership workshops with Israeli VCs such as Entree Capital, Ibex and Viola, leadership sessions with top industry lecturers, and one-on-one Google product mentorship. “Ever since Google for Startups opened Campus Tel Aviv in 2012, diversity and inclusion has been an essential focus to our work,” said Marta Mozes, marketing manager of Google for Startups in Israel. “When we discovered this data about female founders in Israel, we knew we had to be part of the change.”

Meet the other Israeli entrepreneurs, representing industries from family vacation-planning to finance, who joined me at Google for Startups Growth Academy: Women Founders:

  • Miri Berger, Cofounder & CEO of 6Degrees
  • Kerri Kariti, Cofounder & CPO of Claritee
  • Vardit Legali, Cofounder & CEO of Clawdia
  • Ronny Schwartz Dgani, Cofounder & CMO of Expecting.ai
  • Inbal Glantser and Naama Yacobson, Cofounders of Homaze
  • Tamar Liberman, Tal Provizor Narkiss, and Lee Winfield, Cofounders of It’s July
  • Mika Kayt, Founder & CEO of Outgage
  • Danielle Shpigel and Yarden Kaufmann, Cofounders of Unika

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