- Google Brings Fake News Fact-Checking to Search Results
First fact-checking came to Facebook Inc. Now it’s coming to Google.
The world’s largest search engine is rolling out a new feature that places “Fact Check” tags on snippets of articles in its News results. The Alphabet Inc. unit had already run limited tests. On Friday, it extended the capability to every listing in its News pages and massive search catalog.
This is the latest sign Google is responding to mounting pressure to police content it hosts online after criticism the company, and other internet firms, help spread misinformation.
Google isn’t entirely giving up its usual hands-off approach: The company is letting others do the fact-checking. The approach is meant to legitimize or question claims online, Google said in a blog post. Checked search results list the name of the person or group making the assertion and the determination of the fact-checker.
Although Google is working with established fact-checking organizations, like PolitiFact and Snopes, it’s also opening up the system to publishers including The Washington Post and The New York Times. In theory, media organizations could use the new feature to fact-check each other. Or publishers could give different verdicts on the veracity of the same article.
“These fact checks are not Google’s and are presented so people can make more informed judgments,” Google said. “Even though differing conclusions may be presented, we think it’s still helpful for people to understand the degree of consensus around a particular claim and have clear information on which sources agree.”
While any publisher can apply to add fact-check labels to content, Google search algorithms will determine whether they appear in results, a spokeswoman said.
The company plans to reserve the label for search results about addressable public claims of fact, rather than opinion. Publishers can write the labels that appear next to results. Examples include “True,” “Mostly False,” or “Pants on Fire!” (a favorite of PolitiFact).
Outcry over the influence of misinformation, or “fake news,” began after the U.S Presidential election. Facebook, a leading driver of online traffic to publishers in the U.S., took the brunt of criticism. On Thursday, the company introduced new features in its flagship social network designed to show users how to detect false news. (Listen to Bloomberg’s Decrypted podcast on how fake news blew up into a political crisis for Facebook.)
But Google has not been immune to scrutiny. Critics have pointed to several instances of inaccurate and misleading articles surfacing in search results. Such examples are particularly stark when Google delivers what it finds in the form of tiny snippets, a priority for the company in recent years.
“From our perspective, there should just be no situation where fake news gets distributed, so we are all for doing better here,” Google Chief Executive Officer Sundar Pichai told BBC News shortly after the U.S. election.
Google is not paying publications or fact-checking organizations. A spokeswoman for Google said articles that used the new fact-check label would not be ranked differently in search results.
Seplat Energy Plc Records $535 Million in Revenue in the First Nine Months of 2021
Seplat Energy, a leading Nigerian independent energy company listed on both the Nigerian Exchange Limited and the London Stock Exchange, recorded $535 million in revenue in the nine months that ended 30 September 2021.
Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation, and Amortization (EBITDA) stood at $266.4 million while cash realised from operations was $163.8 million, the company stated in its unaudited financial statements for the period.
Total expenditure for the period was $83.9 million. Cash at the bank was estimated at $273.9 million and the energy company posted $479.8 million as net debt. See other details below.
- YTD working-interest production of 47,280 boepd down 6.7% year on year largely as a result of the shut-in of the Forcados Oil Terminal (FOT) in August (Q3: 40,381 boepd)
- Liquids production down 16.6% year on year at 27,804 bopd, recovering to 33kbopd liquids in October
- Gas production up 13% to 113 MMscfd, despite FOT impact on associated gas
- Completed two gas wells and three oil wells in the period, new Gbetiokun wells performing strongly
Financial highlights (9M 2021)
- Revenue after adjusting for an underlift was $535 million
- EBITDA of $266.4 million
- Cash generated from operations $163.8 million
- Cash at bank $273.9 million, net debt of $479.8 million
- Total capital expenditure of $83.9 million
- Interim dividend of 2.5 cents ($0.025)
- Name changed to Seplat Energy Plc to reflect new strategic vision outlined in July; new branding launched in October
- Acquisition of Cardinal Drilling rigs for $36 million and cessation of legal proceedings by Access Bank Outlook for 2021
- Expected production narrowed to 48-50 kboepd for full year, subject to market conditions
- Amukpe-Escravos Pipeline (AEP) commissioning has commenced, oil flow expected in December 2021
- Capex now expected to be $167 million for the full year
- ANOH project remains on track for first gas in H1 2022
Commenting on the financial statements, Roger Brown, Chief Executive Officer, said: “Production has recovered strongly since the outage at Forcados Oil Terminal (FOT) and we have been averaging nearly 33kbopd liquids throughout October. Now that production has normalised, we expect production to be in the range 48-50 kboepd for the year, provided uptime on the Forcados Pipeline and FOT remains above the budgeted 80%. I’m pleased to report that our new wells at Gbetiokun are performing strongly, and we will soon commence drilling the exciting Sibiri prospect on OML40.
“We have taken the difficult, but practical decision to bring an end to the uncertainty of the Access Bank legal dispute regarding Cardinal Drilling Services, which completes the Board-mandated removal of Related Party Transactions.
“Although we maintain our previously stated position that legal action against the Company was wholly without merit, the risk of significant disruption to our operations and other opportunities from a long, drawn-out legal case brought us to a negotiated settlement with Access Bank. We have therefore acquired the four Cardinal rigs and we are now focusing on fast tracking their deployment in future drilling campaigns. `
“Our business model is robust, despite setbacks in the third quarter, thanks to the prudent and flexible approach we have taken to managing the business. With an increased focus on efficiency in our operations, improving uptime by opening up the Amukpe to Escravos Pipeline and driving further cost reduction across our portfolio, this will provide the bedrock allowing us to operate effectively in fluctuating commodity prices and generate returns for shareholders. I am optimistic that the coming year will be much stronger, with many of the problems of the past put behind us.
“After we set out our future strategy in July’s Capital Markets Day and launched our new corporate name of Seplat Energy plc, complete with its new branding, we are now focusing on building out and executing the energy transition that is right for Nigeria. A strong step forward will be when we bring on stream the ANOH project next year delivering more transition gas to an energy poor market, over reliant on expensive, high carbon-emitting electricity generated from small-scale diesel and PMS generators. Our three-pillar strategy is designed to ensure we balance carbon emission reduction with the essential social agenda for undeniably the most under-electrified, youngest and fastest growing population on earth.”
Crude Oil Drops on Wednesday as U.S. Oil Inventories Jump Unexpectedly
Global oil prices fell by 1 percent on Wednesday after data from the U.S. Energy Department showed that the United States oil inventories unexpectedly rose by 4.3 million barrels last week. More than the 1.9 million barrels predicted by experts.
The unexpected increase in United States inventories weighed on crude oil prices on Wednesday, erasing $1.31 or 1.5 percent from Brent crude oil after it rose to a seven-year high on Tuesday. While the U.S West Texas Intermediate (WTI) dipped by $1.09 or 1.3 percent to $83.56 a barrel.
Still, gasoline stocks declined by 2 million barrels across the United States, a situation likely to push pump prices even higher.
“The market continues to deplete Cushing crude oil inventories and that is impacting the Brent-WTI spread and ultimately we’re going to see crude oil diverted from the Permian up to Cushing rather than going to the Gulf Coast,” said Andrew Lipow, president of Lipow Oil Associates in Houston.
However, the shaky COVID-19 recovery in most economies has led to doubts over the sustainability of rising oil prices.
“(Some) countries are falling into an autumn Covid-19 case spike,” said Louise Dickson, senior oil markets analyst at Rystad Energy, “which poses downside risk for oil demand growth in the very near-term and could provide a soft pressure on oil prices.”
Brent Crude Oil Extends Gain to $86.66 a Barrel Amid Tight Supply
Tight global oil supply pushed Brent crude oil, against which Nigeria oil is priced, to a multi-year high of $86.66 per barrel on Monday at 3:30 pm Nigerian time.
Oil price was lifted by rising fuel demand in the United States and tight global supply as economies recover from pandemic-induced slumps.
“The global energy supply crunch continues to show its teeth, as oil prices extend their upward march this week, a result of traders pricing in the ongoing rise in fuel demand – which amid limited supply response is depleting global stockpiles,” said Louise Dickson, senior oil markets analyst at Rystad Energy.
Goldman Sachs on the other hand is predicting a further increase in Brent crude oil to $90 a barrel, citing a strong rebound in global oil demand due to switching from gas to oil. This the bank estimated may contribute about 1 million barrels per day to global oil demand.
The investment bank said it expects oil demand to reach around 100 million barrels per day as consumption in Asia increases after the devastating effect of COVID-19.
“While not our base-case, such persistence would pose upside risk to our $90/bbl year-end Brent price forecast,” Goldman said in a research note dated Oct. 24.
Earlier this month, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, Russia and their allies, known as OPEC+ agreed to continue increasing oil supply by 400,000 bpd a month until April 2022 despite calls for an increase in global oil supplies.
The decision bolstered the price of Brent crude oil above $84 per barrel and expected to push the price even further to $90 a barrel. Low global oil supply amid rising demand for crude oil will continue to support oil prices in the near term.
“Despite the recent power cuts and impacts to industrial activity in China, oil demand is likely instead supported by switching to diesel powered generators and diesel engines in LNG trucks, as well as by a ramp up in coal production,” Goldman Sachs stated.
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