These features make Google’s search safer

On the occasion of the Fact Checking Day, Google provides various options to curb disinformation in the search. This also includes a new label for frequently cited sources.

April 2nd is International Fact Checking Day. And just in time for this date, Google clearly shows which features the company uses to make the search as secure as possible. Because the information situation on the Internet can often be confusing and complicated. Therefore, fact checking and curbing disinformation is particularly important. With these functions, users can classify their search results.

New at Google: A label that shows frequently cited sources

Google search has become so complex and intricate that the company released a dedicated website and explainer video last year to explain how it works. The search engine company strives to present users with the latest and most relevant news and information, preferably at a glance. It is also important to minimize disinformation and to provide searchers with context about the sources and the status of the search results.

Nidhi Hebbar, Product Manager bei Google, now explains on the blog The Keyword, which specific features Google uses to display the search results and their particularly transparent. A new feature, for example, is a label that displays sources that are often cited. This helps users, for example, to find out which publisher published a relevant story first. In the case of reporting on Meta’s payment to a consulting firm running a smear campaign against TikTok, for example, the Washington Post was the originator of the story. At Google, the post would then receive a label with the words “Highly Cited”.

© Google

The feature will initially be rolled out for English-language results in the United States. The roll-out will follow worldwide in the coming weeks.

Evaluation of results: Indication of potentially unreliable results and About this result

Google also flags when results may be unreliable because they are subject to change, such as in an election or the sighting of an unusual animal or object. A corresponding note had already been tested in 2021. The company is now rolling out this feature, also initially for English-language search results in the USA.

This GIF shows an example of how the new information literacy tips will appear on notices for rapidly evolving topics. For the query “UFO filmed by airline pilot,” the GIF shows a notice that results are changing quickly and information literacy tips suggesting that you can check the source or come back later when more information is available.
© Google

The notice also reminds searchers that they can trust the source and that there may be more solid information on the subject in a few hours.

If you want to find out more about a search result and/or the corresponding source in detail, you can either access Google’s Search Result Explainer or click on the About this result icon. Tapping on the three dots at the top right next to a mobile search result opens an info pop-up. This provides up-to-date information on the sources using information from the Wikipedia encyclopedia.

This GIF shows an example of how you can use About This Result to learn more about a source and topic. It shows a person clicking on the About This Result panel for a result on a search about investing in NFTs, and shows information about the source of the result and information from other sources about the topic.
© Google

You can also use the feature to access more articles on the topic from other sources as well. However, this function is currently only available for English-language results, but will soon be available worldwide.

Fact checking is very important to Google

In her blog post, Nidhi Hebbar also addresses the importance the search engine company places on fact-checking. This is how she explains:

When you search for a topic that may be disputed, you might see fact-check articles in your results. These results display snippets to help you get context about a claim that was made. Additionally, when you browse Google News on desktop, you can see recently fact-checked claims from independent publishers in your region, when related to the top stories of the day.

This GIF shows an example of a search you can do in Fact Check Explorer. In this example a person searches for the phrase “bird fire” and gets results fact checking that claim.
© Google

Google also offers a Fact Check Explorer, which brings together over 150,000 fact checks from renowned companies from around the world. Globally, the company wants to use the Google News Initiative ensure free and fact-based reporting. Training and resources are made available to fact checkers in cooperation with the International Fact Checking Network (IFCN) of the non-profit organization Poynter Institute. Overall, Google works with many different fact-checking organizations, from Australia to the Philippines.

For more fact checking background and resources, visit the Website des Fact Checking Days. The company provides a further detailed look behind the scenes of Google search in a specially filmed film on the subject.

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