Perhaps lost amid Google CEO Sundar Pichai’s relatively unscathed testimony to Congress on Tuesday were questions about when someone searches for the word “Idiot,” photos of President Donald Trump appear high in the results.
Speaking in front of the House Judiciary Committee, Pichai explained that the company doesn’t “manually intervene” in search results, and instead search results are based on crawling the content of web pages.
“We provide search today for any time you type in a keyword. We, as Google, have gone out and crawled and stored copies of billions of their pages in our index, and we take the keyword and match it against the pages and rank them based on over 200 signals,” Pichai said.
“Things like relevance, freshness, popularity, how other people are using it. And based on that, you know, at any given time, we try to find the best results for that query,” he added.
The House committee held the hearing to discuss whether Google’s search results are politically slanted. Shortly before Pichai’s explanation, which was prompted by a question from Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) had claimed to have “irrefutable” evidence that Google was suppressing conservative search results.
For the record, that “idiot” search result page was due to third-parties’ “Google bombing” the president. Something similar was done to President George W. Bush. In the mid-2000s, Bush’s photo showed up whenever you searched for “miserable failure,” The Verge notes.