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Google Search rolls out long-awaited updates for snippets

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Google is rolling out changes to featured features fragments. While that text box at the top of a Google search page can be helpful, it’s also known to spread misinformation.

The tech giant announced on Thursday that it was rolling out the latest AI model, called the multitask unified model, in an effort to provide more accurate information. Google said the model can now understand the notion of consensus, in this case when multiple high-quality sources all agree on the same fact. The algorithm should be able to compare snippet callouts (when the words are above the featured snippet in a larger font) with other resources on the web to see if there is a general consensus, even if they use different words or concepts for the same.

There’s also the separate concern when Google snippets contain information that may not be the most useful for an answer. The search team highlighted an example that had no answer: “When did snoopy kill Abraham Lincoln.” That search turned up a snippet with an accurate date and information about the president’s assassination, but it doesn’t necessarily rule out the claim that the cartoon dog was behind it.

[Image: Google]

Google VP of Search Pandu Nayak said in a blog post that the update will reduce the activation of featured snippets by 40% in these cases.

The updates are part of Google’s larger efforts to fight misinformation on the platform. The company launched “about this result” last year, which adds context to any search result if users tap the three dots next to the result before clicking on the web page. Users have only been able to use that on the search webpage, but the company is expanding the feature in the Google app. Users can now swipe up from the navigation bar on any page to get more information about that resource.

[Animation: Google]

Google also adds more context to its “about” feature, including how widely a resource is distributed, online reviews of the resource or company, and whether the company is owned by another entity.

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