Google briefly described Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch as a “world renowned lib owner,” after prank edits to Gorsuch’s Wikipedia page made their way into Google search results.
The description appeared in Google’s “knowledge panel” on the Supreme Court Justice, which appears at the top of Google search results for prominent figures, organizations, and topics.
LOL. I initially thought this was is a PhotoShop — but it is real. It’s the current Google search result for “Neil Gorsuch.” Now even Google is owning the libs. pic.twitter.com/WQ5qLKSaEL
— Jerry Dunleavy (@JerryDunleavy) June 27, 2018
The description appears to be the result of a prank Wikipedia edit by a conservative writer. The edit followed a recent string of high-profile Supreme Court decisions that hinged on Gorsuch’s vote and, well, owned the libs.
These include a 5-4 ruling in favor of President Trump’s travel ban, a 5-4 ruling that pro-life pregnancy centers don’t have to advertise abortion, a 5-4 ruling that public sector unions can’t force workers to pay them contributions, and a 5-4 ruling in favor of the state of Texas in a redistricting battle. Gorsuch voted with the majority in all four cases, which led to the Wikipedia edits.
Someone's having fun with Wikipedia this morning pic.twitter.com/WPPeXFiCfN
— Parker Molloy (@ParkerMolloy) June 27, 2018
Although this time the edits were “just a prank, bro,” they further expose the fundamental problem of Google and other platforms relying on Wikipedia for reliable information.
In the past, more malevolent edits to Wikipedia have led to Google identifying “Nazism” as an official ideology of the California Republican party in the top line of its search results. The search engine’s “automatic sourcing” of content for its knowledge panels also led to it displaying an image labeled “BIGOT” in the top line of search results for a Republican state senator.