Googlebomb Fix – The Solution to Racist Listing in Google Maps
Many listings in Google Maps have become relevant for racist keywords, but Google may have a solution
Due to the way in which Google’s algorithm works, and possibly the actions of a few anonymous individuals, certain listings in Google Maps have been appearing for inappropriate and racist search terms. The most notable example of this has been the White House appearing for the term “Ni**a House”.
Google have apologised for this:
“This week, we had some problems with Google Maps, which was displaying results for certain offensive search queries. Like many of you, we were deeply upset by this issue, and we are fixing it now. We apologize this has taken some time to resolve, and want to share more about what we are doing to correct the problem.”
Why the problem is occurring
As part of the Pigeon update, Google makes use of content indexed across the web about any location to help deliver results for particular searches. Thus a keyword that appears frequently next to the term “White House” can mean that that keyword will become associated with the location “White House” in Google’s Map Listings. Google explains here:
“At Google, we work hard to bring people the information they are looking for, including information about the physical world through Google Maps. Our ranking systems are designed to return results that match a person’s query. For Maps, this means using content about businesses and other public places from across the web. But this week, we heard about a failure in our system—loud and clear. Certain offensive search terms were triggering unexpected maps results, typically because people had used the offensive term in online discussions of the place. This surfaced inappropriate results that users likely weren’t looking for.”
The Solution: Googlebomb Fix
Firstly what is a Googlebomb? Google describes the problem of a Googlebomb/link bomb as:
’What is a Googlebomb?” Technically, a “Googlebomb” (sometimes called a “linkbomb” since they’re not specific to Google) refers to a prank where people attempt to cause someone else’s site to rank for an obscure or meaningless query. Googlebombs very rarely happen for common queries, because the lack of any relevant results for that phrase is part of why a Googlebomb can work. One of the earliest Googlebombs was for the phrase “talentless hack,” for example.”
In this case the problem is occurring due to a number of individuals publishing content on the web which refers to the White House as a “N***a House”, and taking advantage of the way in which Google’s Pigeon algorithm works.
Thus the Googlebomb Fix is the solution to these types of problems. The Googlebomb Fix is generally used for general search results rather than Google Map listings, however the principles are the same.
The Googlebomb Fix involves making algorithmic changes which will block out offensive and derogatory terms from being used to produce results on the Map Listings page, as Google describes here:
”Building upon a key algorithmic change we developed for Google Search, we’ve started to update our ranking system to address the majority of these searches—this will gradually roll out globally and we’ll continue to refine our systems over time. Simply put, you shouldn’t see these kinds of results in Google Maps, and we’re taking steps to make sure you don’t.”