Just few days after it was reported that when one searches for the word “bhikhari” on Google, the search engine returned Imran Khan as results, now a similarly shocking incident has been observed with search ‘bar girl in india’.
It has been found that if one searches for the phrase ‘bar girl in India’ on Google, the name of Congress’ former president Sonia Gandhi appears in the results. The top search result is a snippet from the Wikipedia page of Sonia Gandhi, and next top search results are also related to Sonia Gandhi only.
Imran Khan and Sonia Gandhi are not the only political leaders to fall victim of Google’s bizarre search results, even the all-powerful president of the United States of America is also not immune to it. During a recent Congressional hearing, Republican Zoe Lofgren had asked Google CEO Sundar Pichai why Donald Trump’s name appear as result when one searches for the word ‘idiot’.
Pichai’s answer to that question may provide some hint about why Sonia Gandhi’s name is appearing in this search query. The Google CEO had said that the search giant does not “manually intervene” in search results, and the search results are based on crawling the content in web pages. “We provide search today for any time you type in a keyword. We, as Google, have gone out and crawled and stored copies of billions of their pages in our index, and we take the keyword and match it against the pages and rank them based on over 200 signals,” Pichai had said. “Things like relevance, freshness, popularity, how other people are using it. And based on that, you know, at any given time, we try to find the best results for that query,” he had added.
According to a report by Guardian earlier this year, Donald Trump was appearing on search results for ‘idiot’ due to a concerted campaign by anti-Trump activists. In what is known as ‘Google bombing’, it is possible to influence Google results if lots and lots of web pages contain the two seemingly unrelated content together. In the case of Trump, a massive number of people had posted the image of Donald Trump with the word ‘idiot’, mostly on Reddit, which tricked the Google algorithm to ‘assume’ that there is a relation between the two things. Google’s search algorithm takes popularity as a major factor in determining the relevance of results, and due to that, it can be influenced by such incidents, which may be intentional or unintentional.
Although the first result for the ‘bar girl in India’ is the Wiki page of Sonia Gandhi, it does not mean that the search result is influenced by Wikipedia. The Wiki page does not contain any such word. As with Donald Trump, the search phrase and the name Sonia Gandhi may have been used together in a lot of web pages, blog posts, social media posts etc, which prompted the search algorithm to ‘assume’ that one is related to the another, and then returned the Wiki page on top, as that is the top search result if one searches for Sonia Gandhi.
A few days ago, BJP MP from West Bengal Babul Supriyo also fell victim to Google search, as when one searched for his name, Google was showing 30 December 2011 as his date of death on the side panel showing his profile. It was subsequently removed after the singer cum politician had tweeted about it. In this case too, his Wikipedia page did not contain any date of death, but Google was getting the data from somewhere else.
Dear @GoogleIndia, Shocked to ‘personally’ search on @Google & find that i hv DIED on the 30th of Dec, 2011 ??Can give it 2 U in written that I AM ALIVE •Can U PLEASE revive me for ‘God’s sake’? Life is beautiful & Picture abhi Baki hai Mere Dost?I wanna live pic.twitter.com/zmshS92dVg
— Babul Supriyo (@SuPriyoBabul) December 18, 2018
Google indexes almost all web pages that are there on the Internet, it prepares its search results based on its analysis of those billions of pages, ranking them based on their relevance as per its calculation. In most of the time, Google returns the correct result one is looking for, but there are times like this when even Google gets fooled.