Anyone using Google on Friday to search for information about Republican North Carolina State Sen. Trudy Wade was greeted by a picture of the conservative lawmaker with the word “bigot” in red under her name.
The picture was taken down later Friday, Fox News reported. Wade, who is up for re-election this year, supported President Donald Trump during his 2016 campaign, according to the Winston-Salem Journal.
Google replied to Fox by saying the fact that the photo was taken down as soon as Google learned about it was proof the system works.
“Information and images from our Knowledge Panels are automatically sourced from around the web. When we are alerted to issues like this, we move quickly to fix the problem, as we did in this case,” Google’s spokesperson said.
“Individuals are also able to get verified for the ability to suggest edits and request to change their primary photos on Knowledge Panels,” the spokesperson said.
In writing about the incident for Vice News, Alex Thompson said the issue does in fact lie with Google.
“It’s just the latest example of Google not vetting the information that gets pulled into its ‘knowledge panels,’ which are meant to give users quick information without them having to click through search results (often on other, non-Google websites),” he wrote.
In its reporting on the image incident, CNET said the photo is six years old.
It said that at the time, Wade was on the Greensboro City Council and supported a North Carolina constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage.
Blogger Matt Comer wrote then, “Let me put this as plainly as I can: Mrs. Wade, you are a bigot.”
Wade’s office had no comment.
The North Carolina incident was the second in recent days in which Republicans were smeared online in Google’s search results.
On Thursday, Google briefly said that Nazism was among the ideologies of the California Republican Party, CBS News reported. Although the false claim was removed, California Republicans were irate.
— Kevin McCarthy (@GOPLeader) May 31, 2018
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy called the Google result a “disgrace.”
California Republican Party executive director Cynthia Bryant said Google and Wikipedia should “take more ownership of what is published on their sites.”
Google insisted it was not trying to hurt Republicans.
“We don’t bias our search results toward any political party. 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 company said in a statement.
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