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2-min read

Sundar Pichai Explains Why Donald Trump's Face Appears When You Google 'Idiot'

Speaking at a Congressional meeting, Pichai assured Congress that it wasn't 'little men' in Google, messing with Trump but that Google's algorithm was responsible for the anomaly.

News18.com

Updated:December 12, 2018, 5:34 PM IST
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Sundar Pichai Explains Why Donald Trump's Face Appears When You Google 'Idiot'
Speaking at a Congressional meeting, Pichai assured Congress that it wasn't 'little men' in Google, messing with Trump but that Google's algorithm was responsible for the anomaly.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai was recently asked an embarrassing question during a recent Congressional hearing in the US: Why do images of Donald Trump show up when one searches the word 'idiot' on  Google?

"How would that happen? How does search work so that that would occur?" Democratic Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren asked Pichai during the meeting, as reported by The Sydney Morning Herald.

Pichai responded by explaining to the Congress how Google's search algorithm worked. According to the CEO, the algorithm collates data from millions of web pages collected and stored by Google to generate results for a term that is searched on its engine.

Any time a key word is searched, the algorithm tries to match it against the existing web pages in its index. These results are then ranked according to 'signals' like "relevance, freshness, popularity, how other people are using it," among other things. There are a total of 200 signals that Google uses to rank the search results.

These results are then evaluated on the basis of "external radars...to objective guidelines."

Basically, what Pichai said was that when a keyword is searched Google images, the results come up with images that use the term as a meta tag. In this context, it means that thousands of people have uploaded images of Trump with 'idiot' as a tag resulting in the unsavoury association.

In response to Lofgren's further queries, Pichai assured Congress that it wasn't 'little men' sitting behind the search screen at Google HQ, messing with Trump.

Speaking at the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee hearing on ‘Transparency & Accountability: Examining Google and its Data Collection, Use, and Filtering Practices’, Pichai said that the company usually did not intervene with search results for any keywords. This was proved when the company refused to take down images of a hook nosed Jewish caricature that started showing up when one searched the key word 'Jew' on the site or when the keyword 'Michelle Obama' started throwing up images of a the former First Lady with ape like features.

According to a July report in The Guardian, dissenters of Trump may be manipulating the opaque algorithm to their benefit in order to spread hate against the President. And the scary part is, it's not just Trump that can be targeted through such online trolling.

Meanwhile, the hearing, reminiscent of the recent Mark Zuckerberg one where the Facebook CEO had to face Congress fire, included more than one embarrassing questions.

Among other questions asked by the Congressional committee, Congressman Steve King asked Pichai why his granddaughter got spammed on her iPhone. Pichai politely responded by saying that iPhone wasn't a Google product.

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