Trust Markers

A trusted search engine starts the search journey but once users have typed their search query into Google, the focus then shifts to the individual’s bias toward certain markers and the selection process begins. The search and selection process is essential to analyse if we want to understand how and when trust markers are used and not simply just acknowledge their existence.

Trust markers act as a way for individuals to hold onto some of the control that the act of trusting takes away from them because these markers act as the individual’s toolkit and make them feel in control of the selection process. As Sianne, a survey respondent said in response to the question Do you trust most of what you read online? Why?, “Yes, because I know how to search for reliable, educated and valuable information.” That sounds like a response from a young woman who believes she is in control of her online world.

Upon analysing the search diaries I discovered that there were 10 common ways individuals searched for information. In addition, these search patterns could be clustered into three cases according to how much knowledge the individual had at the time when searching for the information:

Each search pattern used a wide variety of trust markers in the end as the user decided whether the information could be trusted or not. Perhaps obvious, however worth noting, the most complicated and time-consuming searches occurred when individuals had no knowledge of what the answer to what they were searching for could be.

I discovered 20 trust markers. These are a list of the top 10:

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