Art by Mike Sullivan
Oct. 8, 2021 6:00 AM PDT

Google is trying to learn a tough job that news editors around the world do everyday: curating information about breaking news.

A small team inside Google’s search organization has spent more than a year developing a search engine feature called Big Moments that takes a more active role in determining what information to show in search results about major news events, according to three people with direct knowledge of the work. The group has pursued the project as Google Search has continually struggled to keep up with breaking news such as the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol and last year’s Black Lives Matter protests, one of these people said.

The proposed feature aims to spotlight and provide more historical context about important events, from health crises and terrorism to entertainment and sporting events, as they unfold. It would go beyond the types of news articles and tweets Google currently shows in its search results by highlighting the most authoritative facts about a specific event in real time, such as death and injury counts, and updating them as new information emerges. Big Moments also could incorporate government data on the frequency of major events, such as mass shootings or natural disasters.

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