Stephen Colbert recently admitted that he Googles himself every day at 3 p.m. sharp. The popular host of The Colbert Report used his “Who’s Attacking Me Now?” segment to call out Google for misrepresenting his height.
“The foundations of my very self have been undermined… I was horrified to learn that the Google celebrity profile of me lists my height at 5′ 10″… I’m 5′ 11″… and I have been 5′ 11″ since I was 14 years old!”
In his typical over-the-top manner, the ultra-conservative character of Stephen Colbert ranted for several minutes against the search giant. The controversy centers on the new way Google handles search queries for visitors.
For years, when web surfers typed a query into the search box, Google returned a list of relevant websites. The searcher would then click a link and go to one of the sites, where they would get the answer — hopefully.
According to the New York Times, Google has lately been trying to increase the direct answers it provides users — presumably in the hope of keeping people on the site longer, so they can see more ads. That appears to be a change in mission from organizing links, and makes Google act more like a publisher of information.
The information shown on Google is what got Stephen Colbert hopping mad. Colbert spoke directly into the camera, calling out Google CEO Larry Page, saying that he demands a retraction, apology, and a substantial cash settlement, “or I will see your a** in court.”
Fix my height, Google! And add it in nautical miles! I'm 0.0009738nmi, not 0.00096nmi you monsters!
— Stephen Colbert (@StephenAtHome) October 16, 2014
— Louis Gray (@louisgray) October 18, 2014
In response to Stephen Colbert’s allegations, Google didn’t give an inch. Only a half-inch. Yes, they updated their search result, but only gave Colbert a slight bump, changing the listing to show him as 5′ 10.5″ which, with tongue-planted-firmly-in-cheek, they displayed in metric as “1.79m -ish”. The listing also included references to Larry Page at 5′ 11″, Conan O’Brian at 6′ 4″ and Jon Stewart, who as shown only as “shorter.”
Danny Sullivan, Founding Editor of Marketing Land, said, “The challenge Google faces is that it really doesn’t “know” anything — it only gets answers from others, and those answers, not vetted by human beings for accuracy, can be wrong.”
Google has long been one of the top traffic referral sites on the web – but that may be changing. By scraping answers from sites around the web, Google is encouraging visitors to stay on its own site – and of course, view more Google advertising.
As his diatribe came to an end, Stephen Colbert admonished his viewers to keep an eye out for one of those Google Cars snapping photos, and “to remind them that it’s not five-ten” — with a dramatic flourish flipped a pair of obscene one-finger gestures representing the number eleven — “it’s five-ELEVEN!”
Here’s his complete rant. Take that, Google.
[Images by YouTube, Mashable, Google]