Update: This article has been updated to include a statement from the Wikimedia Foundation.
Silicon Valley technology companies have been hit over the past few years as anti-conservative. The latest from Google may, in fact, take the cake. When you search Google for either the “California Republicans” or “California GOP,” the search engine returns a summary of the organization on the right-hand side of the screen. This morning, Google’s search result listed “Nazism” as the first ideology of the California GOP.
Adrienne Royer tweeted out a picture of the search results she got earlier today.
At some point in the not-so-distant future, @Google is going to need Republicans to fight anti-trust battles. You don't make allies by claiming "Nazism" is part of Republican ideology.
It's getting harder and harder to disagree w/ splitting up Google. pic.twitter.com/nW2B4NF8N7
— Adrienne (@AdrienneRoyer) May 31, 2018
Conservative Review was able to replicate the results by searching “California GOP.” You can see the resulting search in the image at the top of this article.
According to Google, what’s causing it is called the Google Knowledge Graph. It works by using an algorithm to attach content from the internet to organizations, people, and other things. The results are then populated in a Google Knowledge Panel. In this case it went horribly wrong. The California GOP does not espouse Nazism.
A Google spokesperson told Conservative Review, “Sometimes people vandalize public information sources, like Wikipedia, which can impact the information that appears in search. We have systems in place that catch vandalism before it impacts search results, but occasionally errors get through, and that’s what happened here.”
The spokesperson concluded, “This would have been fixed systematically once we processed the removal from Wikipedia, but when we noticed the vandalism we worked quickly to accelerate this process to remove the erroneous information.”
Google stressed that it believes the change was not the result of manual manipulation by anyone at Google. The company also stated that it doesn’t manually manipulate search rankings or results, including on political ideology.
On Thursday evening, the Wikimedia Foundation issued a statement about “vandalism” on the Wikipedia entry for the California Republican Party: “This panel result was drawn from a vandalized version of a Wikipedia article. This vandalism was not visible to Wikipedia readers in the text of the article, and has been removed by volunteer editors.”
California GOP spokesman Matt Fleming was unavailable to comment. This article will be updated when responses are received.
After being notified by Conservative Review, Google removed the ideology section from the Knowledge Panel result for the California Republican Party. The swift action was appreciated, but Google should look at tightening up its system to stop the slander of organizations from appearing in search results.
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Robert Eno is the director of research for Conservative Review. He is a conservative from deep blue Massachusetts but now lives in Greenville, SC.