Google CEO Sundar Pichai explained at a congressional hearing how Google searches work and why pictures of Trump appear in search results for the word "idiot". According to the executive, the results of any search are determined by hundreds of factors, such as popularity, freshness and relevance, which are based on data that Google collects from billions of webpages daily.
Pichai added that the results are based on an algorithm and that it would be impossible for human employees at Google to moderate and manually determine the results of searches.
When you do a Google Image search of “idiot,” you get pictures of Donald Trump.— Ali A. Rizvi (@aliamjadrizvi) December 11, 2018
Google CEO Sundar Pichai actually had to explain why to Congress in this surreal moment (as if the video of Trump’s Oval Office tantrum wasn’t enough today): pic.twitter.com/82i2ddhDUQ #TrumpShutdown
Still, even if Democrat Zoe Lofgren considered Pichai's explanation to be sufficient, many netizens were left unconvinced. They noted that some tech companies had already revealed that they are trying to promote certain moral values and have exhibited bias.
For sure, government interference is definitely not going to help & I like to give service providers the benefit of the doubt first, there's just lots of worrying signs of them either trying to be moral arbiters themselves and/or caving in to the loudest screeches— Charlie Cox (@point_gettoit) December 11, 2018
Some social media users directly suggested that in the case of Trump, such search results are ideologically driven.
You don't have to support Trump to recognise this is a bad thing. It's one example of how a supposedly "objective search", as Sundar called it, is ideologically driven — this is the antithesis of objectivity & truth— Charlie Cox (@point_gettoit) December 11, 2018
Although some twiterrians disagreed with such claims, arguing instead that anyone more or less familiar with how online searches work knows that they are based on a particular algorithm and not manually controlled.
These replies mostly just illustrate how little most people know about how search engines work.— nicky v a (@ncklsvnndrsn) December 11, 2018
GOP complaining that searching "idiot" in Google images shows Trump.— Den Opal (@selzero) December 11, 2018
That's an AI algorithm making that call.
But more to the point, look at the top 3. Searching for "idiot" shows Trump *because* the GOP complains that searching "idiot" shows Trump.
Stupid is as stupid does. pic.twitter.com/wt8SHl38jn
Many wondered why Lofgren was even interested in asking Google why its search results consider the president to be an "idiot".
We need an explanation??— M.A.G. (@evie75mag) December 12, 2018
Nothing to explain here— Abdul Basit (@ranabasit15) December 11, 2018
Some noted sarcastically that Google was simply showing the "truth" in the search results.
Google CEO admits Google telling the truth?!?!?!— Bruce Pulver (@revlup66) December 12, 2018
Next: why a picture of a duck comes up when you google "duck".— DJSD (@denisbloodnok) December 11, 2018
One netizen claimed that Trump is often called an "idiot", not only on social media.
Not this specifically, no. Many people criticize Merkel, Macron, Trudeau, etc heavily, it's not common to hear them being called idiots. But I hear people call Trump an idiot every day. Even his own staffers have called him that. Google searches merely represent that.— Ali A. Rizvi (@aliamjadrizvi) December 11, 2018
Several twitterians were amused by the news of the Google CEO's response, predicting that now there would be even more photos of Trump in web searches for the word "idiot", as news articles on it would inundate the internet.
The best part about the House Judiciary Committee asking Google why Trump's picture comes up when you image search 'idiot,' is now there's way more pictures than before pic.twitter.com/iq0S24jnym— Drew Dickenson (@MFDrew) December 12, 2018
Some users jokingly suggested that Google is only bringing up Trump in the "idiot" search results because it was "avoiding" calling him something worse.
Rep. Zoe Lofgren asks Google CEO why she got Trump pictures when she searched for 'idiot'— Paul Lander (@paul_lander) December 12, 2018
Uh, because Google search was going easy on him?!