It looks like Google is or has worked on tweaking the top stories algorithm to filter out fake news sites, or rather, promote higher quality news sites from showing in that box. This is around Google's efforts to not show fake news including banning some AdSense publishers.
The BBC reported earlier this month, an interview with Google's CEO Sundar Pichai who said "there should just be no situation in which fake news gets distributed." In fact, he added that Google would "make our algorithms better," to make sure to "drive news towards more trusted sources."
Here is the video interview:
Here is the transcript:
Sure, fake news as a whole could be an issue. From our perspective, there should just be no situation in which fake news gets distributed, so we are all for doing better here. I don’t think we should debate it as much as work hard to make sure we drive news towards more trusted sources, have more fact-checking, and make our algorithms better.
The interesting part is not too long ago, just two years ago, Google opened up the top stories box to all publishers - not just Google News sources. It was not uncommon to see results in that box from Twitter, Reddit, YouTube, Hacker News or very low quality blogs. Now with AMP, it was even more likely because those sites can quickly deploy AMP and see their stories show up faster.
But anecdotally, the past week, I have been searching and paying more attention to the top stories section. And I have yet to see results from really low quality sites. Most of the results seem like sites that would be accepted into Google News. Note, of course many sites in Google News many would say are bad news sites but they do meet certain criteria, whereas the top stories section didn't have such criteria.
Have you seen examples over the last few days of really low quality sites coming up in the Top Stories box?
Did Google act incredibly quick on Sundar's request to adjust the algorithms to "drive news towards more trusted sources"?
Forum discussion at Twitter.