Search is, a quarter-century since its launch, arguably still Google's most impactful and familiar creation — a way in this day and age to sort through the chafe of unsourced nonsense on Twitter or Facebook and hopefully finding vetted, trusted information quickly. With that context it mind, Google announced an absolutely puzzling new feature today for its flagship product at its I/O 2023 keynote: the Perspectives tab.
Perspectives, according to the company, is a means to "exclusively see long- and short-form videos, images and written posts that people have shared on discussion boards, Q&A sites and social media platforms." In addition to the Perspectives tab, a carousel of the same results "may" appear in some search results — a standalone module graphically resembling the Top Stories module.
In its announcement, Google mentioned the Perspectives initiative is happening in tandem with its quest to "transform" search through AI. What role AI will play in sourcing content for Perspectives is still unknown, but automating content selection and providing a sheen of authenticity to it has had its hiccups for Google in the past. The Popular On Twitter module has surfaced misinformation about breaking news events like mass shootings in the past, and it's nearly certain Perspectives will hit many of the same snags. Google was also among the tech companies grilled by Congress in 2021 over its role in the spread of fake news, an issue which again, Perspectives seems poised to exacerbate.
This shift toward potentially dubious sources seems to not simply be the result of trawling forums and tweets for a new glut of hits for search results, but a considered strategy away from legacy sources of information. The company claims Perspectives will coincide with changes in "how we rank results in Search overall, with a greater focus on content with unique expertise and experience." Has anyone at Google been on a forum or social media website? Unique expertise is almost universally in short supply.
Perspectives launches "in the coming weeks."
Follow all of the news from Google I/O 2023 right here.