An alert will be issued if there is still no credible news on the topic sought, because it is too recent or is being updated
Google is also committed to doing its part in the fight against online misinformation. The most popular search engine in the world has confirmed that it has been testing a new feature for a week that will alert users when there is not enough reliable information on the topics they are looking for.
An alert will only appear in a small percentage of searches, which tend to involve trending and developing topics. This label warns users that the results they are seeing are changing rapidly and specifies that “If this topic is new, it can sometimes take some time before results are added from reliable sources”. Whether the research concerns an alleged UFO sighting or is based on unverified rumors, most likely the warning will be triggered.
Writes the site Recode “That’s the kind of label that Google is rolling out – that simply warns users without blocking the contents – reflects a longer-term incremental approach to educate users about questionable or incomplete information “. The feature complements Google’s recent efforts to help users better understand the context of what they’re looking for.
In April last year, the company released a feature that notifies people when there aren’t enough valid matches for their search, and in February 2021, it added a button “Information” next to most search results that shows people a short Wikipedia description of the site they are viewing, when available.
Google is just one of the Big Techs to start doing something to moderate their content either provide additional context, after a long time in which it was avoided to go down this path, in the name of freedom of expression, apart from serious cases. Twitter, for example, released a number of features ahead of the 2020 U.S. election warning users if the information they were seeing hadn’t yet been verified. Recently, the microblogging social network is also implementing a label system who will evaluate the reliability of the tweets, adding links with more information as needed.
Google’s new feature has been welcomed by researchers like Renee DiResta of the Stanford Internet Observatory. DiResta and others have argued that this type of warning is a welcome alternative to debates about whether or not to ban a particular account or post. However, it is not yet clear which sources Google deems reliable on a particular search result e how many reliable sources they must be recognized before a questionable trending topic loses its label.