Google announced on Friday that it will notify people when they look up breaking news or other rapidly evolving issues that their search results may be unreliable. It’s one of several fact-checking measures the tech giant has incorporated in recent years to curb the spread of misinformation and give significant context to topics that start trending online.The new prompt warns users that the topic in question is developing, so its search results are changing quickly as more authoritative information comes to light. If this topic is new, it can sometimes take time for results to be added by reliable sources, the prompt, which pops up above the search results. In short, take whatever you’re seeing with a grain of salt for now.
To determine when to include the warning, Google has trained its software systems to detect rapidly developing topics that have a limited range of sources weighing in so far. Danny Sullivan, Google public liaison for search said that they will now show a notice indicating that it may be best to check back later when more information from a wider range of sources might be available.
Google confirmed to Recode on Thursday that it started testing this feature about a week ago. At the time, a company spokesperson told the outlet the warning is only popping up in a small percentage of search results about trending topics that are still developing. These notices are rolling out in English to U.S. users first, but Google plans to expand the feature’s release over the coming months.
Between the contentious 2020 U.S. presidential election and the global covid-19 pandemic, online platforms have faced a reckoning for their role in the spread of conspiracy theories and disinformation campaigns. Google is one of several tech giants working to provide more context to what people come across on the internet. Last year, it added fact-checking labels to images found via its Google Images search and knowledge panels to search results about covid-19 vaccines, among other updates aimed at improving search literacy
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