Google To Warn Of Unreliable Results

John Lister's picture

Google is to warn users when results for a search might not provide reliable information. It's designed mainly for breaking news stories.

The warning will be an update feature for the existing "About this result" tool that Google has been testing publicly since February. The tool means results on mobile devices now have a menu option that brings up a pop-window that describes the source, with the description taken from Wikipedia. The idea is to give users a quick insight into sources they don't recognize and help them decide how authoritative or otherwise they may be.

Warning Message Issued

The new feature will check through the "About this result" listings for all the top search results for a topic. If it finds few or none of them are from reliable or authoritative sources, it will publish a warning reading:

"It looks like these results are changing quickly. If this topic is new, it can sometimes take time for results to be added by reliable sources." (Source:

Google says the warning is necessary for cases where "a topic is rapidly evolving and a range of sources hasn't yet weighed in."

Algorithm Takes Time

One reason this could happen is that a news story or other topical event happens, it could take time for reliable reporters to verify what is actually happening and then post results. In the meantime, less reliable sources might post based on unconfirmed rumors or speculation just for the sake of being first and boosting site visit numbers to raise ad revenue.

Another reason is that one of the key factors to Google's search algorithm is the number of sites that link to a particular page, along with the reputation and popularity of the sites providing the link. It naturally takes time for those links to appear with a new story, meaning Google has to rely on less useful factors to determine which results appear high up the rankings.

The notices will initially only be shown to US users searching in English but Google plans to roll it out to all users in the next few months. (Source:

What's Your Opinion?

Is this a useful move by Google? Should it find better ways to downplay unreliable sites instead? Should it leave it to users to decide which results are reliable rather than issue a warning?

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LouisianaJoe's picture

I no longer use Google because it filters the results through a political filter. If you want to test this, pick a conservative person or a pro-gun story and search for it using Google then DuckDuckGo. If I search for something I want to see results for all viewpoints.

DavidInMississippi's picture

This is the biggest problem with big tech today. THEY decide what's reliable, what's "fake news," what's "disinformation" or "misinformation" and apply those labels with NO ONE providing overwatch on THEIR decisions. They have complete autonomy to skew the results any way they like, to suit their own agendas. Somehow, this just seems like the fox guarding the henhouse.

beach.boui's picture

The biggest problem is that people are too stupid to know how to tell the difference between fake news and honest news in the first place. So, I'm glad there is some effort, at least, to help them. But, nowa days, certain people will simply reject the news they don't like and go find a source that tells them what they want to hear. The American education system has failed us, miserably.

anniew's picture

I agree with the comments already posted. No longer do I use Google for searches, and find "DuckDuckGo" much better; it certainly doesn't have the bad reputation that Google has. So tired of these entities making themselves little gods who know all things.