When a member of the US Congress in a hearing with Google CEO Sundar Pichai asked why the search result for ‘Idiot’ showed the image of US President Donald Trump, we all were left wondering: That is such a stupid question to ask, right?
Now, if you search ‘bar girl in India‘, the name of former Congress President Sonia Gandhi appears in the results.
While the top search snippet is the Wikipedia page of Sonia Gandhi, other links include a Quora thread with the question: Was Sonia Gandhi a bar dancer before marrying Rajiv?
A recap on why this is happening
Earlier this month, Pichai was summoned in front of the US Congress where he was asked why Trump’s photo shows up on Google when we search the word ‘Idiot’. This problem greeted India recently when you typed “Bitches near me” on Google Maps and got girls schools and PG as the result.
Pichai’s answer to the US Congress might explain why Sonia Gandhi’s name is appearing in the search query. He pointed out that the search giant does not “manually intervene” in the search results and that they are purely based on what Google’s web crawlers find online.
Pichai offered a long and detailed explanation of how the Google algorithm works.
“Any time you type in a keyword, as Google we have gone out and crawled and stored copies of billions of [websites’] pages in our index. And we take the keyword and match it against their pages and rank them based on over 200 signals — things like relevance, freshness, popularity, how other people are using it”, Pichai explained.
“And based on that, at any given time, we try to rank and find the best search results for that query. And then we evaluate them with external raters, and they evaluate it to objective guidelines. And that’s how we make sure the process is working”, he added.
Some of the weirdest Google results recently
- Imran Khan = Bhikhari (as per Google search)
Amongst all the politicians, Pakistan PM Imran Khan suffered the most it seems. Just a few days back it was reported that if you search for the word ‘bhikhari’ on Google, the search engine showed Imran Khan as the result. In lieu of this, Sundar Pichai was asked to be summoned in front of Pakistan’s Punjab Assembly to offer an explanation regarding the same.
2. Donald Trump = Idiot (as per Google search)
In another case, according to Guardian earlier this year, Donald Trump was appearing on the search results of ‘idiot’ due to a campaign started by Anti-Trump activists. A massive number of people had posted the image of Trump with the word ‘idiot’ on Reddit which prompted Google algorithm to assume that there was a certain relationship between them.
3. Babul Supriyo = Dead (as per Google search)
Amongst them, a BJP MP from West Bengal Babul Supriyo was presumed dead by Google search on 30th December 2011 when someone searched his name. It was only corrected by the search giant after he tweeted about the same.
4. Narendra Modi = World’s most stupid Prime Minister (as per Google search)
Back in 2015, it was reported that Google placed Indian PM Narendra Modi’s photos under ‘Most Stupid Prime Ministers’ list while Google had also placed Narendra Modi under Top 10 Criminals of the world earlier.
5. Sonia Gandhi = Bar girl in India (as per Google search)
Not only searching ‘bar girl in India’ pops up the name of Sonia Gandhi but a simple Google search of ‘Italian bar girl‘ also throws up pictures and the Wikipedia page of her.
This unfortunate choice of keywords could spread trouble in a country like India where dozens of people tend to learn things which are forwarded on WhatsApp.
For example, I received this news through a message forwarded on WhatsApp and the change in mindset this can cause amongst people is highly upsetting.
The entire blame can’t be put on Google for this. If you search for ‘Italian Bar Girls’ on the Bing search engine of Microsoft, the first result is, again, Sonia Gandhi’s Wikipedia page, according to FirstPost.
Google says that algorithms control everything in Google search and they are not at fault. Most of the times Google returns the correct result that we are looking for but after all these results, Google sure has a lot of explaining to do.
Image Credits: Google Images
Find the blogger at @AarooshJairath