In an effort to combat fake news, Google is integrating a new service that lets its users fact-check in real time. The Poynter Institute pointed out the new feature, which appears alongside search results without being too intrusive.
The new addition made its debut on Friday, but Google teased the feature way back in October. Last year, the search engine teamed with Jigsaw, a separate sector of Alphabet, Google's parent company, to add source tags to news stories in select countries. It announced the feature in a blog post that explained how it all works.
The new fact checking goes one step further than the previous source tags. Instead of simply showing where users can find confirmation for a search, fact check adds a slew of additional features. Not only do users get the actual claim, but they can also see who claimed it and get it fact-checked by a credible source.
Poynter's example uses the flat-earth theory. If someone types in "the world is flat," they'll see the claim, "The world is flat; you can fall over the edge." Alongside that, they'll see that it was first proposed by the Square World Society Press Corps and that the entire thing is false via a confirmed source. If there's more than one source, users will see a carousel that shows each one individually.
Justin Kosslyn, product manager at Jigsaw, says that the new feature integrates a slew of new fact-checking sources from all over the world. Schema.org and the Reporter's Lab both played an integral role in the new fact-checking feature, adding another layer of trustworthiness and legitimacy. Not just any source can qualify as a credible one. Poynter explains that there's an extensive vetting process, which includes "using the Schema.org ClaimReview markup or the Share the Facts widget; [adhering] to the Google News General Guidelines; [and] be "algorithmically determined to be an authoritative source of information.'"
Kosslyn adds that while Jigsaw and Google have been working hard to make sure that the new add-on is working smoothly, there is still more work to do. Users can give feedback about sourcing, whether or not the service has misidentified a fact as false (or true), and about the user experience in general. Google will incorporate the suggestions and continue to develop its algorithm so it's as seamless and accurate as possible. It will also go back and retroactively fact-check previously published stories. Eventually, users could see sources on almost every query they enter into Google.