In one of Silicon Valley's latest attempts to tackle our online misinformation crisis, Google announced a new feature that warns U.S. users about trending topics that don't have reliable search results yet. The prompt cautions users that, "it looks like these results are changing quickly," further explaining that "if this topic is new, it can sometimes take time for results to be added by reliable sources," according to an image on Google's announcement published on Friday. The tool is designed to detect searches on topics that are "rapidly evolving," like breaking news or other subjects garnering a surge of interest, that "a range of sources" have not weighed in on yet. However, Google's announcement didn't say exactly what would be considered a reliable source nor how it'd assess the reliability of said sources. The danger of online misinformation has been a widespread concern levied against tech companies for many years now.
It's been discovered recently that Google is testing a feature that would autoplay videos directly in search results. Right now, it appears this functionality only works when a user's search query is related to movies and TV shows. Google's autoplay videos in search results was first spotted by Jennifer Slegg from the search specialist website The SEM Post. Slegg claims that autoplaying videos will appear on the right-hand side of search results inside the knowledge panel. Some ad blockers and web browsers are able to prevent videos from playing automatically, however.
Senator was labeled as a bigot in search results. The North Carolina Republican lawmaker, whose Google results Friday yielded a photo of her with the word "bigot" across the bottom, fired back on Saturday, saying the tech company's apology "rang a bit hollow." State Sen. Trudy Wade released a statement on her website Saturday about the "Google firestorm," saying that while "I appreciate Google's belated apology, if I'm being completely honest it rang a bit hollow." A photo of North Carolina State Senator Trudy Wade appeared in Google's Knowledge Panel with the word'bigot' written across the bottom. The controversial image that appeared on the right side of the page, reported by Vice News, showed the word "bigot" written in capital red letters under Wade's headshot.
Google is going to start asking people if they're depressed. The company hopes that people can use the questionnaire to get help more quickly and to improve their quality of life, it said. Noting that clinical depression is incredibly common – around on in five Americans will experience it – and that people often wait for years to get help, it said that it would add a screening questionnaire that would give people more practical help if it thinks they are searching to find out whether or not they have the condition. The clinically validated questions, known as PHQ-9, can help identify the levels of depressive symptoms a person has and will pop up just from the search result. People will be able to tap on a button that says "Check if you're clinically depressed" and then directed towards a quiz, which makes clear that the answers will be kept entire private.