A number of people reported glitches in Google search results. Whatever happened resulted in strange search results that interpreted search queries in wildly wrong ways.
Wrong Interpretation of Search Query
Arguably the most interesting glitch is one in which the BERT algorithm might suppose to be involved (but seems as if it is not).
In this glitch Google appears to have taken a search result at face value, without trying to interpret the ambiguity inherent in the question.
The search query is “why is 5G dangerous?”
The right answer would be to show a result that argues that 5G is not dangerous. Google does this in other medical related search queries like those related to vaccines. But not in this search result.
This is a tweet from the CEO and founder of the site that is being quoted. He complained to Danny Sullivan that the featured snippet quote misrepresents the conclusions of the article being quoted.
@searchliaison @dannysullivan this is a really bad snippet that completely misrepresents our article and is spreading misinformation. Please fix. pic.twitter.com/QR0vYOOrGo
— Lowell Heddings (@lowellheddings) March 16, 2020
Google apparently interpreted the search query as about 5G being harmful and showing snippets from sites that answer that specific question.
If you do a search for medical related phrases such as “why are flu shots dangerous,” or “how to cure coronavirus naturally” Google gets it right.
It’s difficult to say exactly why Google fails with the 5G search query. But it seems like a part of Google’s algorithm is missing.
Wildly Wrong Interpretations
Another strange result is related to John McCain. In this glitch the question is:
“when was John McCain executed?”
More Glitchy Search Results
Another strange result affected Google’s Knowledge Panel for the search query “Democratic Party” that showed an image of a rat as the symbol.
Glitch in Google Currency Exchange Information
Someone else reported that Google’s currency exchange information was completely wrong and was causing problems related to currency exchange.
Dear @JohnMu @methode @searchliaison
One of the sources used to calculate the exchange rate from USD (dollars) to DOP (pesos) has an erroneous information on the interchange.
This is causing panic in the Dominican economy.
The @BancoCentralRD has the correct exchanges. pic.twitter.com/wzCYnyYWbD
— D@SF- ACT NOW AGAINST CORONAVIRUS (@DasfNYC) March 16, 2020
Conspiracy Theory Content Surfacing
Conspiracy theorists are all over Twitter remarking how a “filter” that previously blocked search and image results related to fringe ideas that were suddenly appearing where previously those pages were hard to find.
If you do a Twitter search for “google search results” you’ll find the tweets and information regarding the conspiracy theories appearing in Google Search, YouTube and Image Search.
It’s hard to understand what’s causing all of these glitches and whether there is an increase in poor search results. It may be useful to keep an eye on the Mccain and 5G search results. Once Google fixes those errors that may be a sign that Google has implemented a scaled solution that addresses these problems.
I have long found these quirky search results to be useful for gaining an insight into Google’s algorithm. Asking questions like what’s missing from the algorithm that is causing these particular search results? can help tease out an interesting detail.