Google CEO Sundar Pichai on Tuesday explained why pictures of United State president, Donald Trump, always come up on Google Images when people search the term “idiot”.
Pichai explained this while fielding questions in a session with the country’s House Judiciary Committee.
“How would that happen? How does search work so that that would occur?” Democratic Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren asked Pichai.
Pichai responded by explaining that Google has a search algorithm that collates data from billions of web pages.
“Any time you type in a keyword, as Google we have gone out and crawled and stored copies of billions of (website) 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,” he said.
“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.”
But what’s really going on here?
While Google makes no bones about the fact that its search function isn’t always fair or completely accurate, it shows how the company’s algorithms can be manipulated — just ask US politician Rick Santorum who had his name co-opted by an online campaign to mean a type of discharge created during anal sex following anti-gay comments he made.
After Green Day song American Idiot was used by protesters in the UK during a visit by Donald Trump, internet activists worked to entrench the connection between the pejorative and images of the leader.
That mainly involved doing things like upvoting a post on Reddit with the word “idiot” and a picture of the US President — a type of campaign commonly known as Google Bombing.
Earlier in the year, media outlets started reporting on the uncanny search results, so now you mostly get pictures related to news articles (which rank well) explaining why Mr Trump turns up when you look for pictures of an idiot.