Google, criticized for fake news on its websites and weak privacy controls, is hoping for social impact with a program that aims to teach schoolkids how to safely utilize the Internet.  

The company, forced to close its Google+ social site last year after it disclosed private data of users, launched six new educational activities to teach kids about online disinformation and fake news on Monday, an expansion of its online citizenship curriculum Be Internet Awesome

The effort comes as parent company Alphabet struggles with increasing Internet hazards, to the point that it’s considering walling off children’s YouTube videos into a separate website. The safety program is the latest Google initiative to combat fake news. Back in 2018, the company committed $300 million over three years to tackle misinformation.

  • Critics have raised questions about how much Google profits from the news industry and how much the company has done to prevent the spread of misinformation in recent elections. 
  • The safety campaign comes as surveys say trust in media has fallen to an all-time low: Only 42% of Americans trust in media and online platforms, according to 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer Global Report
  • Media investments slipping: global PE investment in  media declined 3% to $19.6 billion in 2017, according to a White & Case Report.
  • Karma Takeaway: While it’s civic-minded for Google to take leadership to improve media literacy and safety, the move also preserves the tech giant’s leadership position in disseminating information by shaping future online behavior.