Google glitch: search giant apologises for missing Churchill photo amid statue controversy

Jun 15, 2020 | Search Engine Optimization, Uncategorized

Google glitch: search giant apologises for missing Churchill photo amid statue controversy
Google has been forced to post an apology after its search engine failed to show a photo of Sir Winston Churchill, blaming it on an update glitch in its Knowledge Graph tool.

There was concern Google was censoring the image following controversy over the former PM’s statue, and culture secretary Oliver Dowden contacted the tech giant about it.

Google said the error had occurred when it tried to change the photo.

His image was missing from the information box which appears on the right hand side of searches for his name, and also from lists drawn together by Google which featured him, such as British Prime Ministers.

The absense of the photo of the iconic wartime PM caused a great deal of complaints on social media, and came in the aftermath of violent protests in Parliament Square around Chruchill’s historical legacy and his statue.

Some complaints on Twitter speculated the removal of a photo was intentional, as the statue in London is currently boarded up in a bid to protect it amid fear of ‘violence and disorder’ from a minority of activists.

On Sunday, a day after violent protests, people searching for ‘British Prime Ministers’ were shown a horizontal list at the top of Google search results with a small preview picture of every former PM except Churchill. W

This led to Google issuing an explaination, saying Churchill’s image was removed temporarily due to an issue with the search provider’s ‘knowledge graph’ listing.
Google responded to the issue via its dedicated Google Search Liaison Twitter account which assured people the glitch wasn’t ‘purposeful.’ Their tweet read: ‘We’re aware an image for Sir Winston Churchill is missing from his Knowledge Graph entry on Google. We apologise for any concern.

‘This was not purposeful & will be resolved. Images in such panels are automatically created & updated. During an update, they can briefly disappear. ‘If a Knowledge Graph image is missing due to an update, the subject will be named but lack an image in anything automatically generated from the Knowledge Graph. This is why Churchill’s image (but not his name) is missing from some lists. It is temporary & will be resolved. ‘The image issue only applies to Knowledge Graph-generated information. Many images of Churchill are easily found through both web and image searching on Google.’

There was concern Google was censoring the image following controversy over the former PM’s statue, and culture secretary Oliver Dowden contacted the tech giant about it.

Google said the error had occurred when it tried to change the photo.

His image was missing from the information box which appears on the right hand side of searches for his name, and also from lists drawn together by Google which featured him, such as British Prime Ministers.

In a series of tweets Google explained that in late April it had received criticism that the photograph which was being used, and had been selected automatically, was of a young and less-recognisable Churchill.

Its human reviewers determined that the image was indeed “not the most representative” of the former British PM, and blocked it in order for the system to automatically replace it with another.

“Normally, the image would update quickly. In this case, a bug in our systems prevented a new representative image from updating,” Google said.

“As a result, Churchill’s entry lacked an image from late April until this weekend, when the issue was brought to our attention, and resolved soon after.”

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