Amidst reports of Narendra Modi's picture showing up in Google image searches of 'world's most stupid prime ministers', a Google spokesperson told HuffPost India that this time, the company wouldn't be issuing any statement.
Since Thursday, a Google images search for 'World's Most Stupid Prime Ministers' showed Narendra Modi along with other leaders like David Cameron, Tony Abbot and the late Lee Kuan Yew.
In June, a search on the engine for 'Top 10 criminals in the world,' threw up Modi’s images along with Al Capone and Dawood Ibrahim. This sparked outrage among Indians on Twitter and more than 13,000 Tweets later, Google apologised and said it was working to prevent such "unexpected results" from surfacing again.
That time the company issued a statement that read: “These results trouble us and are not reflective of the opinions of Google. Sometimes, the way images are described on the internet can yield surprising results to specific queries. We apologise for any confusion or misunderstanding this has caused. We’re continually working to improve our algorithms to prevent unexpected results like this."
Google's apology eventually became a bigger story than the 'Modi-criminal' collocation with most international outlets across the world reporting on it.
Then, Daily News and Analysis, citing a Google spokesperson, explained that the "criminals in India” results were due to a British daily which had an image of Modi and erroneous metadata. It said that in this case, the image search results were drawn from multiple news articles with images of Modi and his statements with regard to politicians with criminal background. The spokesperson added that the news articles do not link Modi to criminal activity, and the words just appeared in close proximity to each other.
Analysts also told Quartz India that accentuated searches of “Modi” and “Top 10 Criminals” together could teach Google’s algorithms to correlate the name with the phrase even more and thus exacerbate the relationship between the search phrases.
Google searches work by trawling the web, following links from one page to another and arranging pages by content. The results that you see are based on 200 factors, such as freshness of the content, site quality, page quality and even user context, like region and web history, which its algorithms deem relevant.