tech

Photos of Winston Churchill disappeared from Google’s search results for a while

Google has fixed this issue now and are looking into what might have caused it.

This ‘glitch’ was flagged by a lot of people all over social media, and while Google has fixed it now, people still want to know what exactly happened.
This ‘glitch’ was flagged by a lot of people all over social media, and while Google has fixed it now, people still want to know what exactly happened. (Wikipedia)

Photos of Winston Churchill stopped appearing in Google’s search results over the weekend. Anyone looking for British prime ministers or World War II leaders could see Churchill’s name turn up on the list but without a picture.

People pointed out that while Google results showed a place-holder image of a black box with a grey silhouette for Churchill, photos of Adolf Hitler, Stalin etc were visible.

This ‘glitch’ was flagged by a lot of people all over social media, and while Google has fixed it now, people still want to know what exactly happened. And given that this issue cropped up on Google after a Black Lives Matter protest in central London saw Churchill’s statue being defaced with the word ‘racist’, the timing of the glitch is rather suspect. 

Google has apologised for the error and said that it was not purposeful. Images in such panels are automatically created and updated, explained Google in a series of tweets, adding that Churchill’s photos might have disappeared during an update.

The search engine went on to say that if a knowledge graph is missing due to an update, the subject name remains but not the picture. Some people also pointed to the fact that Google was showing only one term of his reign as prime minister, alleging that Google was trying to change history and hide his legacy. Google responded to this saying that this was an automatically generated Knowledge Graph list and was not specific to Churchill.

Google also added that they are exploring why an update caused this glitch to happen.

Social media, however, did not seem satisfied with Google’s explanation. They demanded to know the exact reason behind the issue and some even started sharing Churchill’s pictures online.