A Google Search bug reportedly allows any user to add misinformation to search results. In one case, tech site TechCrunch managed to create a Google search result showing rapper Snoop Dogg as President of the United States.
According to TechCrunch, by changing the URLs of search results, you can manipulate the results to include information cards which are inaccurate.
In one example, TechCrunch made rapper Snoop Dogg appear at the top of results for, “who is the US president.”
In another, TechCrunch made the planet Mars the first result in searches for, “what is the capital of Britain.”
The changes are made only in the altered URL, which can then be shared with others who will then also see the same results.
For example, you could be having a discussion with a colleague over who is right about a certain fact, only for you to then manipulate the URL and send it to them, as proof that Google agrees with you. The altered URL also works across social media.
Furthermore, the bug has reportedly been around for at least three years, with Google yet to fix it.
“The manipulated search query doesn’t break HTTPS, so anyone can craft a link, send it in an email, tweet it out or share it on Facebook — and the recipient, one assumes, would be none the wiser. But that can be a real problem in an age of mistrust of internet companies after misinformation campaigns by nation-state actors,” TechCrunch reported. “‘Who is responsible for 9/11?’ can be pointed to George Bush, a widely held conspiracy theory.”
“And even, ‘Which party should I vote for?’ can be pointed to either the Republicans or the Democrats,” the news outlet continued, adding, “It’s a mystery why Google, despite claims of political bias” has “taken so long to fix a basic weakness in its search results that would make the service far more trustworthy.”