The first page of Google's search results pages has become a place where internet activists protested against Donald Trump. Here, when people use Google to search for the query "idiot", they see images of the U.S. President.
It all started out when online activists protested on Trump’s policies regarding unauthorized immigrants and members of the LGBTQ community, among others.
The association between Trump and the word “idiot” was partly sparked by London protesters’ choice of the Green Day song American Idiot during the President’s English visit. As Redditors have jumped into the crowd and upvoted posts of Trump with the word “idiot,” this manipulated Google's search ranking algorithms, making it think that "Donald Trump" and the word "idiot" are relevant.
As Google started showing Trump's picture when people search for the term idiot, the news broke, further reinforcing the trend.
In a statement, Google responded that it doesn't support the images, but won't interfere with search results directly. When the news about Trump and "idiot" being related on its search results, Google didn't address the issue quickly.
"Search engines are a reflection of the content and information that is available on the internet. A site's ranking in Google's search results relies heavily on computer algorithms using thousands of factors to calculate a page's relevance to a given query," said Google in 2009. "Sometimes subtleties of language cause anomalies to appear that cannot be predicted."
Google's algorithms were created to help the search engine organize and prioritize information. This made Google one of the most powerful companies on the web.
However, just like associating Trump with the word "idiot", the algorithms had previously gotten to a series of troubles because of it being prone to manipulation based on trends. This is called Google bombing, and it has been around since 1999, or a year after Google was founded.
Some manipulations that had happened over the years include and not limited to:
Searching for "more evil than Satan himself" would show Microsoft's website; Tony Blair has been associated with the term "liar"; a search for "terrorist sympathizer" returned Bill O’Reilly’s homepage; searching for "dangerous cult" showed the Scientology website; a search for a black developer's name showed photos of gorillas; the campaign for the neologism "santorum"; searches for "Michelle Obama" returned a picture of her face retouched to have ape-like features, CNN's logo associated with "fake news"; searches for "rapist" brought images of Bill Clinton; and a search for "Jew" returned anti-Semitic imagery.
Google continues to update its algorithms to make it more useful and powerful. However, the company didn't necessarily made it culturally sensitive. As a result, the company has faced numerous complaints and needed to do manual reviews to fix things up.