Beginning in 2003, a group of users had figured out how to game the site’s search results.
It seemed like the query represented Google’s editorial viewpoint; instead, it was a prank.
The engineers might tackle a long-term adjustment to the algorithm addressing the root cause.
These problems—often caused by hackers or pranksters, and occasionally triggered by people with truly bad intentions—weren’t everyday situations.
As the October 1 massacre in Las Vegas unfolded, Google displayed “news” results from rumor mills like 4Chan, and Facebook promulgated rumors and conspiracy theories, sullying the service on which, according to Pew Research, 45 percent of American adults get their news.
It’s hard to square the global power, reach, and ubiquity of these massive platforms with their youth: Google just turned 19.