The Encyclopedia Britannica is looking to regain relevance by attaching itself to Google search results in an effort to correct the misinformation that the company deems to exist there.
The new search product, “Britannica Insights,” is a Chrome extension. It will take information from the encyclopedia and inhabit it on the sidebar “snippet” of a Google search results page. The snippet is a welcomed resource in most cases when it comes to simple, factual questions that are not involved in emotionally charged rhetoric.
How far away is the Earth from the Sun? When does the new Mario Tennis come out? Do dogs sweat? The information is fast, accessible, and usually correct. It’s these snippets that also inform 80 percent of Google Home search results. Britannica Insights doesn’t replace Google’s snippet. It just provides its own results next to Google’s.
The plug-in is free and the content is provided through human writers and editors at the company. Suggested articles and context are provided underneath search results as well, an improvement to the core basics that some Google snippets currently provide.
The Britannica Insights release comes at a time when Google and its products, like YouTube, are beginning to utilize Wikipedia as a source for online fact-checking. In March, YouTube’s CEO Susan Wojcicki announced that the platform would begin adding information from Wikipedia underneath videos in efforts to address the platform’s onslaught of conspiracy-related content.
Encyclopedia Britannica hopes to combat these issues by expanding the market for quick, sidebar information like the Google snippet. Searches for subjects like “climate change” result in not only a basic descriptor but go on to provide context and what the company calls a “deep dive” into the subject. With this new extension, the company hopes to “cut through the noise on the internet and provide trusted and verified information at the top-right corner of their search results page.”