Americans searching for the California Republican Party on Google in the last week were offered “Nazism” in a list of the party’s ideologies – a fact that caused outrage among the state’s Republicans.
In the “knowledge panel” that provides easy access to information next to search results, Google was showing “Nazism” as an “ideology” of the party as of Thursday morning. The word “Nazism” was hyperlinked to a secondary page that shows “Nazism” alongside other “ideologies” of California Republicans like “Conservatism,” "Market liberalism,” “Fiscal conservatism,” and “Green conservatism."
In light of the ongoing narrative in conservative circles that Silicon Valley is stanching Republican views online, some politicians saw the mistake as proof that tech giants are out to get them:
“It is disgraceful that the world’s largest search engine has labeled millions of California Republicans as Nazis,” said Republican Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California, the House Majority Leader and potential successor to Speaker Paul Ryan. “This is just the latest incident in a disturbing trend to slander conservatives. These damaging actions must be held to account. The bias has to stop.”
Though it remains unclear how the term was added to the page, Google claims it was not due to a rogue employee:
"Sometimes people vandalize public information sources, like Wikipedia, which can impact the information that appears in search," a Google spokesperson said, in a statement. "We have systems in place that catch vandalism before it impacts search results, but occasionally errors get through, and that’s what happened here."
The spokesperson stressed that the "Nazism" listing was not due to any manual change by any Google employee and that the company does not manipulate search results to favor any political ideology over another.