Now, the internet can be a funny place. It’s filled with memes, funny cats pictures, and enough opinions to fill anyone’s day. However, sometimes strange things can happen when it comes to the Google search engine, which is what seems to be the case at the moment when you Google the term “idiot” and get images of the U.S. president, Donald Trump.
That’s right, if you Google “idiot,” Donald Trump will turn up at the top of the image search results.
As Time points out, sometimes Google makes mistakes when it comes to its search algorithm. Back in 2004, Google got it extremely wrong when searches for the term “Jew” turned up anti-Semitic sites. In 2009, when people Googled “Michelle Obama” an image of the “first lady’s face retouched to have ape-like features” showed up according to TheGuardian. Then, searching for the term “rapist” before the U.S. election began showing images of Bill Clinton.
So, why does this happen?
Sometimes the reason for these sorts of anomalies cannot be explained and is merely a glitch in the algorithm. Google explains it as such according to The Guardian.
“A site’s ranking in Google’s search results relies heavily on computer algorithms using thousands of factors to calculate a page’s relevance to a given query. Sometimes subtleties of language cause anomalies to appear that cannot be predicted.”
Other times, however, the glitch is a result of people and sites, effectively, gaming the system. This is likely the case in regard to the term “idiot” currently bringing up images of Donald Trump.
As USA Today points out, part of the reason for this result is that several English articles published last week included the Green Day song titled “American Idiot” in the headline in relation to Donald Trump and his trip to England. This meant that images were likely titled to describe the article and used the terms “American Idiot” and Donald Trump as descriptives in the image metadata as well as in the article content. As a result, Google’s algorithm has paired these terms together, and with so many people reading and sharing these articles, it has pushed its relevance to the top of the search results.
Along with this, The Guardian also points out that there has been an active push on Reddit to have people upvote an image of Donald Trump that is titled “idiot.” Once again, this upvoting has helped to tell Google’s algorithm that the term “idiot” should be associated with the term “Donald Trump.”
As yet, it is unclear when this anomaly will correct itself. Likely, Trump will have to wait for someone else to be labeled an idiot before his image starts dropping from Google’s search results.