Google searches for information about the coronavirus have exploded since the crisis began, with the search volume at its peak four times higher than the highest search interest for the Super Bowl, the tech giant’s parent company Alphabet announced on Tuesday.
In the company’s first-quarter earnings call, Google CEO Sundar Pichai said customers were flocking to the service to find reliable information about the deadly pandemic.
“People are being more cautious and seeking authoritative advice and guidance to protect their family’s safety,” Pichai told investors.
At its peak, the search volume dwarfed the Super Bowl — and Alphabet has worked to reduce the amount of misinformation on its various platforms.
“We’re humbled that users continue to turn to us as much as they do in a time of global need and uncertainty,” Alphabet Chief Financial Officer Ruth Porat said. “We take that responsibility very seriously.”
Alphabet recently added coronavirus fact-check panels to YouTube results and removed some videos that falsely linked the coronavirus to 5G coverage, a growing conspiracy theory.
Porat said customers were “looking to YouTube for information educational entertainment constantly as they study, create, and work from home.”
Despite seeing growth of 13% compared to Q1 2019, Alphabet saw a “significant and sudden slowdown in ad revenues” by the end of March correlating with areas that, one by one, were affected by the pandemic, Pichai said.
“It really is a tale of two quarters,” Porat added.
Porat said Google and Alphabet would slow the pace of hiring new employees, but is “redoubling efforts” to help advertisers and partners affected by the coronavirus.
Pichai said the tech giant is seeing a trend of businesses transitioning to digital operations and suspected it will continue even after the coronavirus pandemic ends.
“The world will not look the same,” he said.
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