Google will now let you know when search results could be unreliable

Google Search Image
Google Search Image (Image credit: Android Central)

What you need to know

  • Google is rolling out a new feature that alert users when results for their search term are in flux.
  • This will be most visible on searches for breaking news topics.
  • The company will roll this out first in the U.S., though an international expansion is planned in the coming months.

A new Google Search tweak will let users in the U.S. know when their search results will be prone to fluctuation, the company announced this week. Now, when users are performing a search on the web or the best Android phones, they could be met with a notice warning that "results are changing quickly."

This will be applied to topics such as breaking news, where the known facts can change rapidly as sources gain more understanding.

Google's Danny Sullivan, a liaison for Search, explained in a blog post:

[W]e've trained our systems to detect when a topic is rapidly evolving and a range of sources hasn't yet weighed in. We'll 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 Search

Source: Google (Image credit: Source: Google)

Speaking further to Recode about the specific example cited in the blog post, Sullivan said:

Someone had gotten this police report video released out in Wales, and it's had a little bit bit of press coverage. But there's still not a lot about it.But people are probably searching for it, they may be going around on social media — so we can tell it's starting to trend. And we can also tell that there's not a lot of necessarily great stuff that's out there. And we also think that maybe new stuff will come along.

In other words, Google wants users to use Search more thoughtfully and contemplatively. With conspiracy theories springing into existence from incomplete search results or early news reports, it's a feature that couldn't have come soon enough.

Earlier this year, Google rolled out an "about this result" feature. This tool provides users with more information about the websites that show up in their results. Much like with this one, it's aimed at providing additional context and increasing user confidence in the results they're getting.

Today's notice will be available in the U.S., although Google says that other countries will be getting it over the coming months.

Michael Allison