Now, search queries that include a disputed or controversial statement might display results that show a fact-checker's assessment of the statement right at the top. The new feature is designed to prevent the spread of misinformation.
See It in Action
Recently, Sen. Bob Corker appeared on MSNBC's Morning Joe and said that 27 million people are enslaved worldwide. That's a claim that can be checked.
The website Politifact evaluated Corker's claim and rated it "Mostly True." Politifact also happens to be one of the sites that Google relies on for checking facts.
Now, if you Google "27 million people enslaved," you'll see fact-check result right at the top of the results. In this case, it's a link to the aforementioned Politifact article.
Google doesn't just display a link to Politifact, though. It also displays the ranking ("Mostly True") right below the snippet. So users don't even have to leave Google to view the ranking.
Overall, here's what you'll see in a fact-check claim:
Which Facts Get Checked?
Now that you've seen a fact-check in action, you might be wondering how Google determines when to display a fact-checker's analysis.
That's dependent on two things: the search query itself and the source that does the fact-checking.
First, the query must match something that's been fact-checked. If it hasn't been fact-checked by any credible organization, Google won't display any links to verify the information.
Next comes the source that does the fact-checking. That source must not only be credible in its own right, but it also must use the ClaimReview schema.
That schema enables publishers to add markup to a page so that Google's bot can determine that the page is checking a claim made by another source. Then, Google can parse the conclusion and display it at the top of the search results.
Of course, not just any publisher can appear as a fact-checker by just adding markup to its page. The source needs to be authoritative.
Here's what Google has to say about that: "Only publishers that are algorithmically determined to be an authoritative source of information will qualify for inclusion. Finally, the content must adhere to the general policies that apply to all structured data markup, the Google News Publisher criteria for fact checks, and the standards for accountability and transparency, readability or proper site representation as articulated in our Google News General Guidelines. If a publisher or fact check claim does not meet these standards or honor these policies, we may, at our discretion, ignore that site's markup."
Right now, Google recognizes more than 115 organizations as part of its fact-check community.
Google Doesn't Endorse the Fact-Checks
The fact-checking judgments that you see in search results are the sole work of the organizations that performed the fact-check and not endorsed by Google itself. In other words, Google is just sharing what others are saying, not making a claim itself about the accuracy of any particular statement.
Google encourages people who disagree with fact-checks to contact the publisher directly.
Speaking of Disagreements...
Sometimes, Google might display a number of fact-checks in carousel format at the top of the search results. Some of those fact-checks might reach different conclusions about the accuracy of a specific claim.
But that's a good thing. It lets people know that even fact-checking organizations can disagree. In those cases, the searcher should investigate the claim further.
Wrapping It Up
Every day, countless people use Google to get information. Google wants to make sure that the information its users receive is as accurate as possible. That's why the company has added fact-checking to its search results.