Tag Archives: COVID-19

Spot misinformation online with these tips

The COVID-19 pandemic. Elections around the world. Fact-checkers worldwide have had a busy year. More than 50,000 new fact checks surfaced on Google Search over the past year, with all fact checks receiving more than 2.4 billion impressions in Search in that timeframe. 


A growing body of external research suggests that fact checks can help counter falsehoods. In a new report supported by the Google News Initiative published today, researchers Ethan Porter, Thomas Wood and Yamil Velez found that corrections in the form of fact checks reduce the effects of misinformation on beliefs about the COVID-19 vaccine.


Fact-checking isn’t just for the professionals, however. Every day, people seek evidence to confirm or refute a piece of information they’re uncertain about. Over the past 12 months, Google searches in India for “is it true that...” were higher than “how to make coffee,” and that’s saying something given last year’s Dalgona craze


We're committed to supporting all users as they look for reliable information online, and sharing our insights with other organizations to strengthen fact checking.


With that in mind, and ahead of International Fact Checking Day on April 2, here are five simple tips to help you ask the right questions so you can better spot misinformation online. 


  1. Check if an image is being used in the right context.


A picture is worth 1000 words, as the old adage goes. But a picture can also be taken out of context or edited to mislead. You can search with an image by right clicking on a photo and selecting “Search Google for Image.” You can do the same on mobile by touching and holding the image. This will look for the picture to check if it has appeared online before, and in what context, so you can see if it has been altered from its original meaning.


See how an image is being used in context online. You can search with an image by right clicking on a photo and selecting “Search Google for Image.” This is a simulated example to illustrate how this product works and not the actual experience. 



  1. Look for news coverage.


What’s better than one source? Several! See how (and whether) different news outlets have reported on the same event so that you can get the full picture. Switch to news mode or search for a topic in news.google.com. Make sure to click through to “Full Coverage” if the option is available.


Looking for news on if Earth was visited by aliens? In this simulated example you can see how you can click to find Full Coverage on a topic, and see what other news orgs are covering it.  This GIF is a simulated example and is not the full experience of how the product works


  1. Consult the fact-checkers.


Fact-checkers may have addressed that random story your relative sent you in the group chat – or a similar one that will point you in the right direction to find out what really happened. Try searching for the topic in the Fact Check Explorer, which collects more than 100,000 fact checks from reputable publishers around the world. 


In this simulated example see how you can use Fact Check Explorer to find out if an online claim has been fact checked. This is a demonstration of how the product works and not the full experience.  


  1. Use Google Maps or Earth to verify the location.


False stories about events happening in far-off places can spread due to our lack of familiarity with their location. If you want to get a sense of whether a photo is actually from the place it claims to be from, try checking Google Earth or look at the Street View of a location on Google Maps in regions where it is available.


Say your friend sends you a story about Bigfoot strolling by the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France. Searching for the Eiffel Tower on Street View will at the very least confirm that the tower doesn’t have a big red cowboy hat at the top (like it does in Paris, Texas). If that part doesn’t check out, the rest of the story might be fishy, too.



In this simulated example, you can see how you can find the differences between the real Eiffel Tower in Paris, France and the one in Paris, Texas. This is just a demonstration and not the full product experience. 


We’re committed to helping people spot misinformation online and supporting the fact-checking ecosystem. 

Most recently, we provided $3 million to journalistic efforts fact-checking misinformation about the COVID-19 immunization process. We're supporting a broad collaborative project led by The Quint in India that will seek to source hyper-local misinformation and distribute fact checks through a grassroots network of rural women. 

We will also be launching the first GNI University Verification Challenge across Asia and in India to boost awareness and knowledge among journalism students.

Through our philanthropic arm, we've been supporting Interviews and Dataleads with their FactShala program. Through this training program, 253 journalists, fact-checkers, media educators, non-profit workers and community radio representatives have come together as trainers to educate more than 23,000 people across the country leading over 540 virtual and in-person workshops in at least 15 languages. FactShala has also collaborated with more than 200 radio stations reaching approximately 1.3 million people across 8,400 villages.

For more tips and best practices, check out the resources put together by the International Fact-Checking Network at factcheckingday.com. And if you’re a journalist, check out the GNI Training Center.


Posted by Alexios Mantzarlis, News and Information Credibility Lead

Helping people find credible information as India gets into vaccination overdrive

Even as our country gradually returns to regular work and life, COVID-19 continues to be a reality for many. The commencement of vaccinations is a source of hope, especially with the second phase now underway, potentially targeting 100  million people who can benefit from it.

As the government continues to manage the logistics of the vaccine roll out -- one of the largest in the world -- it has taken proactive steps to provide timely, accurate, and science-based information about the vaccines to the public. This is crucial because instances of misinformation and disinformation about the vaccine,  its need, and it’s efficacy can seriously undermine this public health intervention.

As the government activates the processes involved in implementing these large-scale vaccinations, our teams have been hard at work to surface authoritative and timely information for people asking vaccine-related questions. We have worked with the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (MoHFW) and the  Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to amplify this science-based narrative around vaccination drive, and have been working closely with the Rapid Risk Response team at the MoHFW that is tracking misinformation using social media listening tools across region and languages, and countering it with science-based messaging on vaccines and pandemic response overall. 

Shortly after the first phase of vaccinations commenced, to help people find credible information we rolled out knowledge panels in Google Search that show up for queries relating to the COVID vaccine. These panels provide consolidated information such as details on the two vaccines, effectiveness, safety, distribution, side effects, and more, and is available in English and eight Indian languages (Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada, Marathi, Gujarati, Bengali, and Hindi). This information is sourced from MoHFW, and provides answers to commonly asked questions, displays real-time statistics around vaccinations completed, and provides links to the MoHFW website for additional local resources.

Search queries on the COVID-19 vaccine display organized information on the subject including top news stories and resources from MoHFW on side effects, where to get it and more.

Our teams also supported the MoHFW in helping optimize their website for mobile viewers by improving the website’s page load times, enabling users to find information swiftly. We also helped localize their various vaccination resource pages into the eight Indian languages listed above.

On YouTube we launched information panels that show up when searching for COVID-related queries and also have a banner on the YouTube homepage, both of which redirect to key vaccine resources on the MoHFW website. We also featured FAQ videos from the MoHFW on the YouTube homepage.

With vaccinations for the vulnerable population having commenced from 1st March in thousands of hospitals across the country, we are also working with the MoHFW and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to accurately surface the information on vaccination centers on Google Search, Maps and Google Assistant, and expect to roll this out in the coming weeks . 

To enable government officials as they make critical decisions during these vaccination rollouts, we also deliver regular Google Trends reports on COVID vaccine queries that reflect interest around the vaccination from month to month across regions.

As COVID-19 continues to challenge our communities, we remain committed to doing all we can to assist the country’s health agencies at this key juncture of the pandemic, where the successful rollout of these large-scale vaccinations can help us collectively turn a corner and see a much-needed return to normalcy.

Posted by the Google India team

How anonymized data helps fight against disease

Data has always been a vital tool in understanding and fighting disease — from Florence Nightingale’s 1800s hand drawn illustrations that showed how poor sanitation contributed to preventable diseases to the first open source repository of data developed in response to the 2014 Ebola crisis in West Africa. When the first cases of COVID-19 were reported in Wuhan, data again became one of the most critical tools to combat the pandemic. 

A group of researchers, who documented the initial outbreak, quickly joined forces and started collecting data that could help epidemiologists around the world model the trajectory of the novel coronavirus outbreak. The researchers came from University of Oxford, Tsinghua University, Northeastern University and Boston Children’s Hospital, among others. 

However, their initial workflow was not designed for the exponential rise in cases. The researchers turned to Google.org for help. As part of Google’s $100 million contribution to COVID relief, Google.org granted $1.25 million in funding and provided a team of 10 fulltime Google.org Fellows and 7 part-time Google volunteers to assist with the project.  

Google volunteers worked with the researchers to create Global.health, a scalable and open-access platform that pulls together millions of anonymized COVID-19 cases from over 100 countries. This platform helps epidemiologists around the world model the trajectory of COVID-19, and track its variants and future infectious diseases. 

The need for trusted and anonymized case data

When an outbreak occurs, timely access to organized, trustworthy and anonymized data is critical for public health leaders to inform early policy decisions, medical interventions, and allocations of resources — all of which can slow disease spread and save lives. The insights derived from “line-list” data (e.g. anonymized case level information), as opposed to aggregated data such as case counts, are essential for epidemiologists to perform more detailed statistical analyses and model the effectiveness of interventions. 

Volunteers at the University of Oxford started manually curating this data, but it was spread over hundreds of websites, in dozens of formats, in multiple languages. The HealthMap team at Boston Children’s Hospital also identified early reports of COVID-19 through automated indexing of news sites and official sources. These two teams joined forces, shared the data, and published peer-reviewed findings to create a trusted resource for the global community.

Enter the Google.org Fellowship

To help the global community of researchers in this meaningful endeavour, Google.org decided to offer the support of 10 Google.org Fellows who spent 6 months working full-time on Global.health, in addition to $1.25M in grant funding. Working hand in hand with the University of Oxford and Boston Children’s Hospital, the Google.org team spoke to researchers and public health officials working on the frontline to understand real-life challenges they faced when finding and using high-quality trusted data — a tedious and manual process that often takes hours. 

Upholding data privacy is key to the platform’s design. The anonymized data used at Global.health comes from open-access authoritative public health sources, and a panel of data experts rigorously checks it to make sure it meets strict anonymity requirements. The Google.org Fellows assisted the Global.health team to design the data ingestion flow to implement best practices for data verification and quality checks to make sure that no personal data made its way into the platform. (All line-list data added to the platform is stored and hosted in Boston Children’s Hospital’s secure data infrastructure, not Google’s.)

Looking to the future

With the support of Google.org and The Rockefeller Foundation, Global.health has grown into an international consortium of researchers at leading universities curating the most comprehensive line-list COVID-19 database in the world.  It includes millions of anonymized records from trusted sources spanning over 100 countries, including India.

Today, Global.health helps researchers across the globe access data in a matter of minutes and a series of clicks. The flexibility of the Global.health platform means that it can be adapted to any infectious disease data and local context as new outbreaks occur. Global.health lays a foundation for researchers and public health officials to access this data no matter their location, be it New York, São Paulo, Munich, Kyoto or Nairobi.

Posted by Stephen Ratcliffe, Google.org Fellow and the Global.health team

An open fund for projects debunking vaccine misinformation

The uncertainty and developing nature of the coronavirus pandemic continues to generate related misinformation. Fact-checkers have been hard at work debunking falsehoods online, with nearly 10,000 fact checks about the pandemic currently showing up across our products. 


The global rollout of COVID-19 vaccines is exacerbating a perennial problem of misinformation about immunization. To support additional debunking efforts, the Google News Initiative is launching a COVID-19 Vaccine Counter-Misinformation Open Fund worth up to $3 million.


While the COVID-19 infodemic has been global in nature, misinformation has also been used to target specific populations. Some of the available research also suggests that the audiences coming across misinformation and those seeking fact checks don’t necessarily overlap.


For this reason, the Open Fund is accepting applications from projects that aim to broaden the audience of fact checks, particularly with those who may be disproportionately affected by misinformation in mind.


The fund is global and open to news organizations of every size that have a proven track record in fact-checking and debunking activities, or partner with an organization with such recognition. 


We will prioritize collaborative projects with an interdisciplinary team and clear ways to measure success. For example, eligible applications might include a partnership between an established fact-checking project and a media outlet with deep roots in a specific community, or a collaborative technology platform for journalists and doctors to jointly source misinformation and publish fact checks.


A global team of Googlers will review applications. The jury that will choose grantees is composed by the following:

  • Theresa Amobi, Senior Lecturer, University of Lagos

  • Ludovic Blecher, Head of Innovation, Google News Initiative

  • Renee DiResta, Technical Research Manager, Stanford Internet Observer

  • Susannah Eliott, CEO, Australian Science Media Centre

  • Gagandeep Kang, Head of the Wellcome Trust Research Laboratory, Christian Medical College

  • Alexios Mantzarlis, News and Information Credibility Lead, Google

  • Syed Nazakat, Founder & CEO, Data Leads

  • Ifeoma Ozoma, Founder and Principal, Earthseed

  • Baybars Örsek, Director, International Fact-Checking Network

  • Andy Pattison, manager of digital solutions, World Health Organization

  • Angela Pimenta, Director of Operations, Projor

  • Amy Pisani, Executive Director, Vaccinate Your Family

  • Yamil Velez, Associate Professor of Political Science, Columbia University

  • Brian Yau, Promotion & Engagement Lead, Vaccine Safety Net at WHO

The Open Fund builds on support the GNI has provided to news efforts fighting pandemic misinformation in April and December of last year. We expect that selected projects will benefit from research the GNI is supporting into the formats, headlines and sources that are most effective in correcting COVID-19 vaccine misinformation. 


Finally, we continue to make high quality, authoritative information about vaccines available in our products. We are continuing to expand the number of countries with information panels on authorized vaccines in Google Search, and we continue to surface fact checks across Google by using ClaimReview. We expanded the features in which users come across fact checks in 2020—in the COVID-19 Google News topic in the U.S., on Google News on mobile in Brazil and in Google Images globally.


Please visit the Open Fund’s website to read more about eligibility criteria and find out how to apply.

Here’s how Google Assistant lent a helping hand in 2020

As we look at how people used Google Assistant this year,
We hope these reflections may bring you some cheer.
From staying in touch to cooking a meal, 
It’s clear we find many of the same things ideal.

In 2020, it felt like many of us needed a little more assistance than usual. With more time spent at home, the ways people used Google Assistant evolved to accommodate new habits and routines—and to help with this, we focused on launching new features, adding new services like Disney+, Netflix, Duo, Meet and Zoom, and creating new tools for developers. As we close out the year, we’re taking a look at the most popular ways that people used Assistant, as well as some more recent trends. 


Lending a hand to families

This year, we launched Family Notes to keep the whole house up to date and running smoothly. We also introduced Family Bell, which launched just in time for the (mostly virtual) school year and was quickly adopted to help families stay on track throughout the day. Here are the top five bells set this school year:

  1. Time for bed

  2. Time for breakfast

  3. Lunch time

  4. Dinner time

  5. Class is starting

If you're enjoying time off from work or school, today we launched the ability to pause your bells until you resume your normal routine. Simply tap the “Pause bells” banner on the Family Bell settings page. Your bells will automatically resume once the pause period is over.

And the amount of requests made to Assistant for help with spelling, using the dictionary and translations more than doubled this year. The top translation request this year was for "I love you”—and the top word that people needed help spelling? “Quarantine.” 

(As a reminder, with their parent's permission, children under 13—or the applicable age in their country—can have a personalized Google Assistant experience when they log in with their own account, powered by Family Link.)


Finding ways to keep in touch

The number of text messages sent with Assistant more than doubled in 2020; currently, “Mom” is the most-called person with Assistant. Many of us also turned to group video calls through Zoom, Google Meet and Duo to host virtual celebrations, attend workout classes and to simply catch up with loved ones.


Spending more time in the kitchen 

Recipes searched with Assistant grew over eight times this past year, and thanks to quarantine’s baking trends, banana bread is still the most requested recipe on Assistant. And because baking calls for perfect timing, more timers were set in 2020 than ever before.


Staying informed and entertained 

Streaming entertainment helped us enjoy newfound time at home, and Assistant brought us even more movies and TV shows from Disney+ andNetflix on Nest Hub devices. We told stories, too: This year, the number of stories told by Assistant increased over three times. Try it out yourself by saying, “Hey Google, tell me a story.” 

In recent trends, the top music genre is currently holiday music, followed by country, relaxing music, rock and pop. And while many of us commuted more frequently between the couch and kitchen than to and from an office, we still turned to podcasts to stay entertained and up-to-date. The most-listened to podcasts on Assistant currently are: 

  • The Daily

  • NPR

  • Savage Love

  • Joe Rogan

  • Ben Shapiro

  • Two Princes

  • This American Life


Controlling homes and devices

Assistant was even busier controlling smart home devices this year. The most popular ask was to turn the lights on or off, and many of us also asked Assistant to adjust the fan, change the temperature on the thermostat, control the TV or launch a game on Xbox.

Today, we rolled out Scheduled Actions so people can “set it and forget it.” Try asking Google to turn off the lights in 10 minutes, or at 11:25 pm on the dot; or say “Hey Google, run the fan for 20 minutes” eliminating the need to remember to turn it off later. 

We also made it easier to quickly set up many smart devices, including lights and plugs—from Philips Hue, C by GE, Yeelight, Nanoleaf, Ledvance, ABL Lighting and Energetic by Yankon—right out of the box. Supported by Seamless Setup, you can now connect your new devices to Google Assistant right from the Google Home app in just a few steps. There’s no need to download another app or install anything else. 

2020’s been a busy year for Assistant, but we wouldn’t have it any other way.


Here’s how Google Assistant lent a helping hand in 2020

As we look at how people used Google Assistant this year,
We hope these reflections may bring you some cheer.
From staying in touch to cooking a meal, 
It’s clear we find many of the same things ideal.

In 2020, it felt like many of us needed a little more assistance than usual. With more time spent at home, the ways people used Google Assistant evolved to accommodate new habits and routines—and to help with this, we focused on launching new features, adding new services like Disney+, Netflix, Duo, Meet and Zoom, and creating new tools for developers. As we close out the year, we’re taking a look at the most popular ways that people used Assistant, as well as some more recent trends. 


Lending a hand to families

This year, we launched Family Notes to keep the whole house up to date and running smoothly. We also introduced Family Bell, which launched just in time for the (mostly virtual) school year and was quickly adopted to help families stay on track throughout the day. Here are the top five bells set this school year:

  1. Time for bed

  2. Time for breakfast

  3. Lunch time

  4. Dinner time

  5. Class is starting

If you're enjoying time off from work or school, today we launched the ability to pause your bells until you resume your normal routine. Simply tap the “Pause bells” banner on the Family Bell settings page. Your bells will automatically resume once the pause period is over.

And the amount of requests made to Assistant for help with spelling, using the dictionary and translations more than doubled this year. The top translation request this year was for "I love you”—and the top word that people needed help spelling? “Quarantine.” 

(As a reminder, with their parent's permission, children under 13—or the applicable age in their country—can have a personalized Google Assistant experience when they log in with their own account, powered by Family Link.)


Finding ways to keep in touch

The number of text messages sent with Assistant more than doubled in 2020; currently, “Mom” is the most-called person with Assistant. Many of us also turned to group video calls through Zoom, Google Meet and Duo to host virtual celebrations, attend workout classes and to simply catch up with loved ones.


Spending more time in the kitchen 

Recipes searched with Assistant grew over eight times this past year, and thanks to quarantine’s baking trends, banana bread is still the most requested recipe on Assistant. And because baking calls for perfect timing, more timers were set in 2020 than ever before.


Staying informed and entertained 

Streaming entertainment helped us enjoy newfound time at home, and Assistant brought us even more movies and TV shows from Disney+ andNetflix on Nest Hub devices. We told stories, too: This year, the number of stories told by Assistant increased over three times. Try it out yourself by saying, “Hey Google, tell me a story.” 

In recent trends, the top music genre is currently holiday music, followed by country, relaxing music, rock and pop. And while many of us commuted more frequently between the couch and kitchen than to and from an office, we still turned to podcasts to stay entertained and up-to-date. The most-listened to podcasts on Assistant currently are: 

  • The Daily

  • NPR

  • Savage Love

  • Joe Rogan

  • Ben Shapiro

  • Two Princes

  • This American Life


Controlling homes and devices

Assistant was even busier controlling smart home devices this year. The most popular ask was to turn the lights on or off, and many of us also asked Assistant to adjust the fan, change the temperature on the thermostat, control the TV or launch a game on Xbox.

Today, we rolled out Scheduled Actions so people can “set it and forget it.” Try asking Google to turn off the lights in 10 minutes, or at 11:25 pm on the dot; or say “Hey Google, run the fan for 20 minutes” eliminating the need to remember to turn it off later. 

We also made it easier to quickly set up many smart devices, including lights and plugs—from Philips Hue, C by GE, Yeelight, Nanoleaf, Ledvance, ABL Lighting and Energetic by Yankon—right out of the box. Supported by Seamless Setup, you can now connect your new devices to Google Assistant right from the Google Home app in just a few steps. There’s no need to download another app or install anything else. 

2020’s been a busy year for Assistant, but we wouldn’t have it any other way.


Exposure Notifications: end of year update

For the last eight months we’ve been working with Apple on the Exposure Notifications System (ENS) to help public health authorities in their efforts to contain COVID-19. We wanted to provide an update on this work.

Saving lives at all levels of adoption

Since May, when this technology became available, public health authorities have launched Exposure Notifications in more than 50 countries, states and regions—an average of two apps each week. This week, California became the latest U.S. state to launch an app using ENS, joining the list of regions who have already made apps available.

By simply downloading your regional app, you can help public health authorities in their efforts to control COVID-19. There’s plenty of evidence that people are doing this: 40 percent of the population in the UK and 17 percent of the population in Uruguay have downloaded the app. In the United States, 20 percent of Colorado and 53 percent of Washington D.C. have enabled EN. There are other anecdotal signs that the system is helping: In September, the Prime Minister of Finland, Sanna Marin, received an exposure notification, and in November, the governor of Virginia, Ralph Northam, had been infected and used Exposure Notifications to alert staff members who may have been exposed.

Research has revealed that exposure notifications can “save lives at all levels of uptake” and showed that a staff dedicated to working on contact tracing combined with 15 percent of the population using exposure notifications could reduce infections by 15 percent and deaths by 11 percent. In Ireland, early reports from their app indicated there were hundreds of EN notifications from people who had uploaded positive test results. A recent pilot in Spain showed that it could detect almost twice as many potential infections than manual contact tracing. 

Apple and Google’s framework offers a backbone for building privacy-centered apps for rapid exchange of data that can help protect and save lives. Judy Monroe
MD, President and CEO, CDC Foundation

Evolving based on feedback  

Exposure Notifications became available to public health agencies in May to build apps on both Android phones and iPhones. It was built on feedback resulting from more than one hundred technical briefings with state public health officers, state epidemiologists, and where appropriate, their commissioned app developers. Major public health organizations that have been consulted include the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the CDC Foundation, the Association of Public Health Laboratories, the American Public Health Association, the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists, the National Association of County and City Health Officials, and the Task Force for Global Health.


In July, based on feedback, we published some updates to ENS including the reference verification server, implementation code, and telemetry design. Since then, U.S. public health authorities that have not yet designed their own apps and want more support in launching an app can use Exposure Notifications Express. This reduces the time it takes public health authorities to develop an app by simply providing Google and Apple with a configuration file, which is then used to provide exposure notifications. Many of these apps in the United States work together so that if you travel across state lines you can still get exposure notifications. The Association of Public Health Laboratories made this possible by hosting a national key server and they offer a list of interoperable U.S. apps. We want to be flexible and support whatever approach works best on a country by country level.

The goal of this project is to assist public health authorities in their efforts by enabling exposure notification in a privacy-preserving manner. We will continue to work with them to help you protect yourself and your community during this pandemic and we plan to keep you updated here with new information again next year. 

How you’ll find accurate and timely information on COVID-19 vaccines

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, teams across Google have worked to provide quality information and resources to help keep people safe, and to provide public health, scientists and medical professionals with tools to combat the pandemic. We’ve launched more than 200 new products, features and initiatives—including the Exposure Notification API to assist contact tracing—and have pledged over $1 billion to assist our users, customers and partners around the world. 

As the world turns its focus to the deployment of vaccines, the type of information people need will evolve. Communities will be vaccinated at an unprecedented pace and scale. This will require sharing information to educate the public, including addressing vaccine misperceptions and hesitance, and helping to surface official guidance to people on when, where and how to get vaccinated. 

Today, we’re sharing about how we’re working to meet these needs—through our products and partnering with health authorities—while keeping harmful misinformation off our platforms. 

Raising authoritative information

Beginning in the United Kingdom, we’re launching a new feature on Search so when people look up information for COVID-19 vaccines, we will surface a list of authorized vaccines in their location, as well as information panels on each individual vaccine. As other health authorities begin authorizing vaccines, we’ll introduce this new feature in more countries.

Vaccine information on Google Search

Launched in March, our COVID-19 information panels on YouTube have been viewed 400 billion times, making them an important source of authoritative information. These panels are featured on the YouTube homepage, and on videos and in search results about the pandemic. Updates to the panels will connect people directly to vaccine information from global and local health authorities. Because YouTube creators are a trusted voice within their communities, we’re also supporting creators by connecting them with leading health experts to make helpful and engaging content for their audiences about COVID-19 and vaccines. 

Since the beginning of the pandemic, we’ve given $250 million in Ad Grants to help more than 100 government agencies around the world run critical public service announcements about COVID-19. Grantees can use these funds throughout 2021, including for vaccine education and outreach campaigns, and we’re announcing today an additional $15 million in Ad Grants to the World Health Organization (WHO) to assist their global campaign.

Supporting quality reporting and information on vaccines

Journalism continues to play a crucial role in informing people about the pandemic, sharing expert knowledge about vaccines, and proactively debunking misinformation about the immunization process. In April, we gave $6.5 million to support COVID-19 related fact-checking initiatives, which have provided training or resources to nearly 10,000 reporters around the world.

Now, the Google News Initiative is providing an additional $1.5 million to fund the creation of a COVID-19 Vaccine Media Hub and support new fact-checking research. Led by the Australian Science Media Centre, and with support from technology non-profit Meedan, the hub will be a resource for journalists, providing around-the-clock access to scientific expertise and research updates. The initiative includes science media centers and public health experts from Latin America, Africa, Europe, North America and the Asia-Pacific region, with content being made available in seven languages. 

To better understand what type of fact-checking can effectively counteract misinformation about vaccines, we’re funding research by academics at Columbia, George Washington and Ohio State universities. This research project will survey citizens in ten countries to find out what kinds of formats, headlines and sources are most effective in correcting COVID-19 vaccine misinformation and whether fact checks that follow these best practices impact willingness to get vaccinated.

Protecting our platforms against misinformation 

Across our products, we’ve had long-standing policies prohibiting harmful and misleading medical or health-related content. When COVID-19 hit, our global Trust and Safety team worked to stop a variety of abuses stemming from the pandemic: phishing attempts, malware, dangerous conspiracy theories, and fraud schemes. Our teams have also been planning for new threats and abuse patterns related specifically to COVID-19 vaccines. For example, in October, we expanded our COVID-19 medical misinformation policy on YouTube to remove content about vaccines that contradicts consensus from health authorities, such as the Centers for Disease Control or the WHO. Our teams have removed more than 700,000 videos related to dangerous or misleading COVID-19 medical information. We also continue to remove harmful COVID-19 misinformation across other products like Ads, Google Maps, and the Play store.

The fight against the pandemic and the development of new vaccines has required global collaboration between the public health sector, and the scientific and medical communities. As work begins to vaccinate billions of people, we’ll support these efforts with additional products and features to ensure people have the right information at the right time. 

Tools to help the travel industry’s recovery

Down the road from our Asia Pacific headquarters, one of the world’s most connected travel hubs—Singapore Changi Airport—is unusually quiet. It’s been this way for months, with global air passenger numbers falling by almost 90 per cent in 2020. 


This has been a devastating year for the tourism industry and the $9 trillion global travel economy—but there are signs of promise, with domestic flights increasing in some countries in Asia Pacific, encouraging news on vaccines, and governments exploring ways of opening up safe international travel. We also know there’s pent-up demand in the region, with one in two people eager or very eager to travel now, and search interest in travel back up to about 50 percent of its pre-COVID level.  


While Asia Pacific is still in the early stages of a potential re-opening, and governments are being as careful as possible, we want to do everything we can to help the travel and tourism industry get ready for what’s next. Today, we’re launching Travel Insights with Google: a website the industry in our region — and ultimately, the rest of the world — can use to understand travel demand and make better-informed decisions. It’s built around three new tools.


Destination Insights 


One of the key things travel businesses, governments and tourism boards are looking for is information about the destinations travellers are searching for in different places around the world—and domestically.


The Destination Insights tool will give them a clear picture of the top sources of demand for a destination, and the destinations within their countries that travellers are most interested in visiting—helping them map out a possible resumption of travel on specific routes and make choices about where to communicate with potential future travelers. 

Singapore destination insights

Hotel Insights 


There are still millions of Google searches for hotels every day, which allows us to generate extensive insights about demand for hotel bookings. We're now making it easier for small and medium-sized businesses to understand where demand for their property may be coming from by providing them with these insights directly. Hotel Insights is designed to help hotels of all sizes—but especially small and independent hotels—understand how to target their marketing as they plan their recovery.

Indonesia hotel insights

Travel Analytics Center


The Travel Analytics Center—available to Google’s commercial partners in the travel sector—will enable organizations to combine their own Google account data with broader Google demand data and insights, giving them a clearer picture of how to manage their operations and find opportunities to reach potential visitors. 


The message from tourism organizations is that they want as much information as possible to move quickly when restrictions ease and people begin booking travel. His Excellency Wishnutama Kusubandio, Indonesia’s Tourism Minister, says that “when it comes to tourism recovery, I believe that digital technologies can be part of the solution,” while Singapore’s Minister for National Development, Desmond Lee, says he hopes the Google tools will provide valuable insights into people’s travel aspirations... as we work together to welcome the world to our shores again.”

We’re encouraged by the positive initial response to Travel Insights with Google, and we’re looking forward to helping meet the growing need for data and insights across the region. 

UNWTO quote

In addition to the three new tools, the site will be a one-stop location for other industry resources, including skills training through Grow with Google, Digital Garage and Google for Small Business, and resources from the UNWTO. And we’ll keep expanding the site with new resources in months ahead. 


Since the pandemic first hit, we’ve been focused on helping businesses and sharing information so people feel safe when they travel. Now, as we head into 2021, we hope to work even more closely with the industry as borders begin to open up, domestic travel increases, and international travel becomes possible again. No matter how quickly or slowly that recovery takes place, we’re committed to supporting global travel and tourism and the many people and businesses that depend on it.

Tools to help the travel industry’s recovery

Down the road from our Asia Pacific headquarters, one of the world’s most connected travel hubs—Singapore Changi Airport—is unusually quiet. It’s been this way for months, with global air passenger numbers falling by almost 90 per cent in 2020. 


This has been a devastating year for the tourism industry and the $9 trillion global travel economy—but there are signs of promise, with domestic flights increasing in some countries in Asia Pacific, encouraging news on vaccines, and governments exploring ways of opening up safe international travel. We also know there’s pent-up demand in the region, with one in two people eager or very eager to travel now, and search interest in travel back up to about 50 percent of its pre-COVID level.  


While Asia Pacific is still in the early stages of a potential re-opening, and governments are being as careful as possible, we want to do everything we can to help the travel and tourism industry get ready for what’s next. Today, we’re launching Travel Insights with Google: a website the industry in our region — and ultimately, the rest of the world — can use to understand travel demand and make better-informed decisions. It’s built around three new tools.


Destination Insights 


One of the key things travel businesses, governments and tourism boards are looking for is information about the destinations travellers are searching for in different places around the world—and domestically.


The Destination Insights tool will give them a clear picture of the top sources of demand for a destination, and the destinations within their countries that travellers are most interested in visiting—helping them map out a possible resumption of travel on specific routes and make choices about where to communicate with potential future travelers. 

Singapore destination insights

Hotel Insights 


There are still millions of Google searches for hotels every day, which allows us to generate extensive insights about demand for hotel bookings. We're now making it easier for small and medium-sized businesses to understand where demand for their property may be coming from by providing them with these insights directly. Hotel Insights is designed to help hotels of all sizes—but especially small and independent hotels—understand how to target their marketing as they plan their recovery.

Indonesia hotel insights

Travel Analytics Center


The Travel Analytics Center—available to Google’s commercial partners in the travel sector—will enable organizations to combine their own Google account data with broader Google demand data and insights, giving them a clearer picture of how to manage their operations and find opportunities to reach potential visitors. 


The message from tourism organizations is that they want as much information as possible to move quickly when restrictions ease and people begin booking travel. His Excellency Wishnutama Kusubandio, Indonesia’s Tourism Minister, says that “when it comes to tourism recovery, I believe that digital technologies can be part of the solution,” while Singapore’s Minister for National Development, Desmond Lee, says he hopes the Google tools will provide valuable insights into people’s travel aspirations... as we work together to welcome the world to our shores again.”

We’re encouraged by the positive initial response to Travel Insights with Google, and we’re looking forward to helping meet the growing need for data and insights across the region. 

UNWTO quote

In addition to the three new tools, the site will be a one-stop location for other industry resources, including skills training through Grow with Google, Digital Garage and Google for Small Business, and resources from the UNWTO. And we’ll keep expanding the site with new resources in months ahead. 


Since the pandemic first hit, we’ve been focused on helping businesses and sharing information so people feel safe when they travel. Now, as we head into 2021, we hope to work even more closely with the industry as borders begin to open up, domestic travel increases, and international travel becomes possible again. No matter how quickly or slowly that recovery takes place, we’re committed to supporting global travel and tourism and the many people and businesses that depend on it.