Bulletins

New Google search features aim to bridge the information literacy gap

The search engine is rolling out new labels to help people figure out which news sources are credible.

Google search home page on a mobile phone

Google's new features will help people figure out which sources are credible.

Photo: Solen Feyissa/Unsplash

The ability to discern credible sources of news from sketchy ones and truths from lies has become a huge problem in the U.S., so Google is adding new features to help users better fact-check information and verify sources.


The company announced Thursday new Google search features that will accompany its existing alert on rapidly evolving topics. Beneath that notice — "It looks these results are changing quickly" — Google will add information literacy tips and a link to a resource page that includes how to best check that the information you're looking at is credible. For topics that are breaking, you'll also be cautioned to come back later if enough credible information isn't available yet.

In Google News, the company is adding a label for highly cited sources, which will appear on top stories as a way to elevate the original reporting and help readers find details that are the most relevant to them. The label will appear as long as other outlets link to the original stories, press releases or sources. Google said the effort is to make it easier "for people to discover and engage with the publishers and journalists whose work brings unique value to a story." The label will roll out in the coming weeks, the company said.

"These days, it can feel like information is coming at us from every direction," Nidhi Hebbar, product manager at Google, wrote in the post announcing the new features. "The widespread availability of information – from all different kinds of sources – is great for learning new facts and perspectives from around the world. But it can also make it difficult to sort out what information is credible and what isn’t."

The features are the latest in Google's information literacy efforts. Last February, it launched a feature that allows users to learn more about where the information in search results comes from. And last June, it added its label letting users know when a topic is breaking and quickly evolving.

The announcement also comes amid mounting pressure for search engines to crack down on Russian disinformation. Google, Bing and DuckDuckGo have all made moves to limit the spread of disinformation and propaganda.

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