Google issues clarification on images of Pakistani flag on searching ‘toilet paper’

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New Delhi | Published: February 19, 2019 7:33:11 PM

This is not the first time when Google had to come forward and issue a clarification over the sketchy results on its search engine.

Google was found to be showing the images of Pakistani flag as the results on searching for ‘toilet paper’. According to several screenshots shared on social media, Google’s image search engine returned images showing the flag of Pakistan. The company has now responded with a clarification, saying that they “have not found any evidence” regarding the search query term and its association with Pakistani flag. It followed the unfortunate killings of more than 40 CRPF personnel in the dastardly attack in Pulwama in Jammu & Kashmir has left everyone filled with irate feelings.

“While we continue to investigate the matter, we have not found any evidence that Google Images was ranking the Pakistani flag in response to this particular search,” a Google spokesperson was quoted as saying in a PTI report. Additionally, Google said that the image showing Pakistani flag on searching for ‘toilet paper’ is essentially an old screenshot made by a website primarily producing Internet memes, which many media outlets wrote about. The website, according to the spokesperson, was inconsistent with the interface of Google, going as early as 2017.

However, it has also been clarified that the images showing the Pakistani flag are appearing because of the many articles that mentioned similar words. The news stories headlining the meme have the terms relevant to what people are now searching on Google, instantly returning the images with the Pakistani flag. “We have not seen any independent verification that these results ever appeared as depicted,” the spokesperson added.

FE Tech independently verified the claim made by Google on the issue and found that the first few images appearing on top when searching ‘toilet paper’ are mapped to many news articles. However, we are not sure if there are other instances not available on the front page showing the results.

This is not the first time when Google had to come forward and issue a clarification over the sketchy results on its search engine. Last year, Google CEO Sundar Pichai was quizzed over the images of US President Donald Trump returned on the search query term ‘idiot’. A similar incident happened with the photos of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi appearing when searched using an ‘unsavoury’ term.

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