Google has recently taken steps to fact-check search results, but sometimes reliable sources can be hard to come by — particularly with breaking news. Now, Google is testing a new feature that will at least warn users when a search may yield unreliable results, Recode has reported.
It’s designed to give search users extra context about new or breaking information. “When anybody does a search on Google, we’re trying to show you the most relevant, reliable information we can,” Google Search liaison Danny Sullivan told Recode. “But we get a lot of things that are entirely new.”
A box above the results advises users that “it looks like these results are changing quickly,” adding that “if this topic is new, it can sometimes take time for results to be added by reliable sources.” As an example, it cited a recent news story about a UFO supposedly caught on a thermal police helicopter camera doing 106 MPH.
“Someone had gotten this police report video released out in Wales, and it’s had a little bit bit of press coverage. But there’s still not a lot about it,” said Sullivan. “But people are probably searching for it, they may be going around on social media — so we can tell it’s starting to trend. And we can also tell that there’s not a lot of necessarily great stuff that’s out there. And we also think that maybe new stuff will come along.”
If fully implemented, the new feature would add to Google’s recent efforts to inform users about the quality of search results. In February, the company introduced “about this result” panels that bring up a description of the linked website. That will either detail how the site sources information or other information about when it was first indexed.
However, the “about this result” pop-ups are hidden behind a menu that folks may not know to click on. The latest feature in testing warns users front and center that the results may not be reliable, hopefully giving users pause before they spread any misinformation.
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