July 29, 2016
Google asks, “Would you like some Hitler with your Crippled America?”
by Liam O’Brien
Ever heard of pareidolia? That’s the pheneomenon in which people see familiar patterns in random stimuli. It’s the human brain struggling to make sense of entropy, and it’s a particularly common problem when you’re already primed to see conspiracies where none exist. Like, say, during an election year.
Which is not to say that electoral politics isn’t a swamp of corruption and chicanery! But probably not when it comes to Google Images. Still, there will likely be some speculation to that effect, as it appears that Google image search is linking Donald Trump’s Crippled America and… Mein Kampf.
The hardworking folks at Fox News broke (well, revisited) this story:
Google’s search function has been thrust into the spotlight again for connecting Donald Trump and Adolf Hitler. On Wednesday, typing the name of Trump’s 2015 book Crippled America into a Google image search, in addition to bringing up images of that book, displayed images of Adolf Hitler’s 1920s manifesto Mein Kampf.
Google has been in the spotlight before for a connection between Trump and the infamous Nazi leader. In June, Googling the phrase “When was Hitler born” also produced an image of Donald Trump and listed his birthday. In that case, Google said it removed the Trump image, and a recent search confirms that the candidate’s image is no longer connected with Hitler’s birthday.
However, the Google image search connection between Trump’s book and the dictator’s manifesto may have been present for months. In December, the website The Pulse 2016 reported the same conjunction of images.
Mein Kampf recently ran into controversy in Italy as well as its home nation, because that’s just what Mein Kampf does. But does this Google image search connection reveal a vast conspiracy that goes all the way to the top? Is this Hooli-gate all over again?
Haha, of course not. When Google was accused by wingnuts of manipulating their search algorithm in favor of Hillary Clinton, it turned out that the real culprit was the algorithm’s built-in ideological toothlessness; you can’t get it to accuse or insinuate or insult anyone. Google’s so desperate to seem bipartisan that no link between Crippled America and Hitler would ever come from the top down. And while it would be nice to think that the Googling public is so alert to Donald Trump’s fascism that they, en masse, have shifted the algorithm in their favor by assiduous searching, that’s not as likely as an intentional campaign of Google bombing by… someone. After all, this isn’t a new strategy.
Of course, once this story starts spreading across other media outlets not exclusively serving the rightwing bubble, it’s possible that Google will alter their algorithm yet again, and the image search will return to its previous, non-Hitler-ed feed of results. So in the meantime, please enjoy this screenshot—wait, oh my God:
It’s gone! The Hitler is gone! Between the beginning of writing this post and now! Spooky? Conspiracy? You decide!
Liam O’Brien is the Senior Sales & Marketing Manager at Melville House, and a former bookseller.