As of Thursday this week, it’s estimated that there are at least 5.38 billion indexed pages on the Internet.
That’s a lot of data for search engines to parse through, including users’ searches, so it’s possible they can sometimes throw up…awkward results, to say the least.
It seems be that, searching for the term, “bar girl in India” shows up the Wikipedia page for Congress’ Sonia Gandhi as the first result. This works on both the Google.com and Google.co.in search pages.
It’s not just a one-off incident either, the rest of the results page is peppered with forum posts, Quora entries, and the like, asking whether the Congress herald used to be a bar dancer. Clearly a rumour or political speech has taken hold among the masses, and their googling has suggested a trend that the search engine has picked up on.
Is Google manipulating search results?
Earlier this month, Google CEO Sundar Pichai was heatedly questioned by a senate hearing committee in the US, about why Trump’s photo shows up when you google the word “idiot”. Then, just a few days ago, Pakistan’s Punjab Assembly passed a resolution to summon Google CEO Pichai as well, to demand an explanation for why “bhikari” searches provide Prime Minister Imran Khan’s photos. Now, India’s got it’s own reason to be mad.
Again, as Pichai had mentioned in the US senate hearing, the company doesn’t “manually intervene” in search results, they’re purely based in what Google’s web crawlers find online. “We provide search today for any time you type in a keyword,” he said at the time.
He further continued, “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. 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.”
So if algorithms control everything in a Google Search, is there a chance they aren’t working as intended here? With this Sonia Gandhi “bar girl in India” Google result, and that of Trump and Imran Khan before this, are the algorithms failing? One thing’s for sure, Google has a lot of explaining to do.
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