Have you ever wondered where an image on the internet came from, who created it, or how reliable it is? If so, you’re not alone. Many people struggle to find trustworthy and relevant information about the images they encounter online, especially in the era of deepfakes, misinformation, and manipulation.
That’s why Google has introduced a new feature called “About this image” that aims to provide essential background information and context about images in Google Search. In this article, we’ll explain what “About this image” is, how it works and how Google Search uses AI to improve image understanding and verification.
What is “About This Image” and why is it Important?
“About this image” is a feature that Google announced at its I/O developer conference in May 2023, and now it’s rolling out to English users globally. It’s designed to show users the origins of an image, including its metadata (when available), and provide vital context about how it’s been described by news and fact-checking sites over time. This helps users evaluate the credibility and relevance of the image, as well as learn more about its source, history, and usage.
The importance of “About this image” stems from the fact that images play a crucial role in how we communicate, learn, and form opinions online. However, images can also be misleading, altered, or taken out of context, which can have serious consequences for our understanding of reality and our decision-making. For example, a recent study found that 21% of Americans have shared fake images online without realizing it. Moreover, images can be used to spread misinformation, propaganda, or hate speech, which can undermine democracy, human rights, and social cohesion.
How does “About This Image” Work?
To use “About this image”, users have to click on the three dots on an image in the Google Images search results, search with an image or screenshot on Google Lens, or swipe up from within the Google App when they’re on a page with an image they want to learn more about. Later this year, users will also be able to access the feature by right-clicking or long-pressing on an image in the Google Chrome web browser across mobile and desktop.
Once they do that, they’ll see a pop-up window that shows them various information about the image, such as:
- When the image and similar images were first indexed by Google
- Where the image may have first appeared online
- Where else the image has been seen online
- Whether the image has been fact-checked or verified by independent organizations
- Whether the image has been generated by AI or not
Please note that “About this Image” is currently available for English users, and its accessibility may vary based on your location and the device you are using. Google Search is also working on expanding its availability and improving user access to this tool, so keep an eye out for updates in the future.
How does Google Search use AI to Enhance Image understanding and verification?
In addition to “About this image”, Google Search is also using AI to enhance its image understanding and verification capabilities in other ways. These include:
- Fact Check Explorer: This is a tool that helps users verify the accuracy of information related to an image, ensuring that they have access to reliable and verified content. It provides journalists and fact-checkers with an advanced way to access detailed information about both images and topics.
- Search Generative Experience: This is a feature that uses AI to generate new images based on user queries or preferences. It allows users to explore different perspectives, scenarios, or possibilities related to their interests.
- AI-generated source descriptions: These are descriptions that provide additional information about the source of an image, helping users understand its context and potentially uncover any biases or inaccuracies. The AI-generated source descriptions will be found in the “more about this page” section under “About this result” for specific sources.
Frequently Asked Questions
In conclusion, “About this image” is a new feature that Google Search has introduced to provide essential background information and context about images in Google Search. It helps users evaluate the credibility and relevance of the image, as well as learn more about its source, history, and usage.
It also rewards publishers who create and share high-quality, original, and trustworthy images online. However, it also faces some challenges and limitations that users and publishers should be aware of. Moreover, Google Search is using AI to enhance its image understanding and verification capabilities in other ways.