How far does fake news travel?

Since we’ve announced the launch of TrustServista — a unique tool that can determine the origin and trustworthiness of online news — we received a lot of useful feedback from industry experts. One of the recurring themes was the possibility to track fake news across the entire Internet, as when it becomes viral it can spread across websites, platforms and countries with tremendous speed.

One example, which we keep getting back to, is the famous VW emissions scandal and the false information published by German auto magazine BILD regarding BMW. Although it’s been more than a year since the that false piece of news was published, then retracted (but not before BMW lost 9% of their stock value in one day!), there are still close to 280,000 webpages that still talk about BMW being involved into emission rigging, same as VW, according to a simple Google Search. And these results are only in English.

Now, take in account that English constitutes only 26% of the Internet. It means that articles about BMW rigging the emissions of their cars are present in all the other languages, probably not in the same proportion as English, but still presumably counting up to 1 Million results. That’s how far fake news travels.

One of TrustServista’s key features is to track a news story from origin (patient zero) to all the news websites that pick up the same information. This is now performed only for English, but it will be expanded to support other languages, so that an information published in German, can be tracked across all websites that reference it, independent of the language.