news Wednesday, June 03, 2015 - 05:30
A few days ago, we wrote a story on how a Google image search of ‘Top ten criminals in India’ throws up bizarre results, and shows even Prime Minister Narendra Modi's image as one of them. Others included popular personalities like Hrithik Roshan, Sonakshi Sinha and Arvind Kejriwal. Quite obviously, none of them, from Prime Minister Modi to Sonakshi Sinha, had anything to do with crime. Some users on Facebook had pointed out the ‘strange’ algorithm, that lead us to write the story.   This isn’t the first time Google has thrown up puzzling and even defamatory results on its search engine. In November 2009, Google was at the centre of a controversy over a doctored photo of Michelle Obama with ape-like features showing up when the First Lady's name was searched on the site.   Daily Mail then reported that the image ‘appeared at the top of hundreds of results when web users searched for images of the First Lady. The prominence of the photo, above legitimate pictures of Mrs Obama, provoked an outcry after Google refused to remove it.   Under criticism, Google first banned the Web site that posted the photo, saying it could spread a malware virus, reported CNN. When the image appeared on another Web site, Google let the photo stand.   A Google ad would also occasionally appear with a statement which read, "Sometimes Google search results from the Internet can include disturbing content, even from innocuous queries. We assure you that the views expressed by such sites are not in any way endorsed by Google."   Reacting to the controversy, Google said, "Google views the integrity of our search results as an extremely important priority.Accordingly, we do not remove a page from our search results simply because its content is unpopular or because we receive complaints concerning it." It added that, "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."   The Prime Minister’s photographs not only appears thrice in the front row, but can also be found several times in the results. The first  photograph however is from The Telegraph report on a racist statement made by Dina Nath Batra, and has got nothing to do with either Prime Minister or crime.   There has been much outrage online in India against the image results thrown up my Google. But given Google's reaction to a similar controversy in the past, it seems unlikely that any images will be taken down due to unpopularity.   
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