Google Search might not be the first place you think of heading to when you want to check out the top news stories of the day. However, Google would like that to change. The Alphabet subsidiary is working on a way for it to show more timely news when a user seeks info on topics like big-ticket sports games, awards shows, and natural disasters.
Twitter, on the other hand, has been able to attract viewers looking for live coverage of breaking news. During such events, anyone with a smartphone can become a photojournalist sharing live video and audio from the scene. In 2015, Google and Twitter reached a deal that elevated tweets to the top of Google Search results for queries related to breaking news. Now, Google would like to be more like Twitter, reports Bloomberg
Google's "Big Moments" seeks to make Search a place to visit during a breaking news event
Inside the company, Google's initiative is called Big Moments and is still considered an experiment. As such, Google isn't saying exactly how it might display tweets covering breaking news in the future. A small group inside the Google Search team is working on Big Moments and the failure of Google Search to display relevant breaking news during the attack on the U.S. Capitol and the Black Lives Matter protests has insiders on the Google Search team working on ways to fix things.
Google has issues keeping up-to-date with a breaking news story such as last January's attack on the Capitol
"We are continually experimenting with ways to ensure that people who come to Google can find the most authoritative and up to date information when they need it," a Google spokesperson said in a statement. “Any feature or improvement to our systems goes through a rigorous testing and evaluation process to ensure it delivers value to people."
Early last year when word about COVID-19 started to be the big story almost every day, Google
revised its Search format so that video and data from medical authorities stood out more in the results. This is what Google would like to do with other timely breaking news events. Still, Google argues that it is not a publisher and should be viewed as a platform.
The changes that Google wants to bring to Search include the addition of historical context to a story. In addition, Google would add information to a breaking news event that it doesn't already include such as updating the most recent death and injury counts connected to a breaking news story, in real-time. Currently, those interested in news turn to Google Search after an event is over instead of heading to the app while the event is taking place.
Twitter has made itself one of the most visited sites during a breaking news event when the event is taking place. As we explained above, part of what makes Twitter so good with breaking news is the way live video from the scene of an event can be posted in seconds and those close to the event can obtain up-to-date information. Google hopes to catch up to Twitter with Big Moments which is being led by Elizabeth Reid, a senior executive who took over as the head of Search experiences in April.
Big Moments has already been tested in live search
Big Moments will use algorithms to make editorial decisions instead of having human editors make these decisions. The SearchEngine Journal
said that using algorithms to curate news in real time will be a big challenge for Google especially with stories that are "polarizing." Google already comes under attack for showing bias is some search results and would probably have to deal with more critics complaining on the bigger news stage.
Google recently added a notice that appears on Search when a story is moving too quickly to appear on the Search app. The message says: "It looks like these results are changing quickly. If this topic is new, it can sometimes take time for results to be added by reliable sources." In a situation like this, human curators would take too long to bring the story to Google which is why the company is using algorithms since the goal for the company is to get the latest news out as fast as possible.
has been told that Google has tested Big Moments in live search results already. Google still has more testing it wants to do before it officially launches the feature.