Google has apologised after searches which include the racist slur “nigger” were shown to find the White House in Google Maps.
Searches for “nigger house”, in a global view of the world, and for “nigger king”, when focused on in the Washington DC greater area, return with the home of the US president Barack Obama as either the primary search result or one of three.
“Some inappropriate results are surfacing in Google Maps that should not be, and we apologise for any offence this may have caused. Our teams are working to fix this issue quickly,” a Google spokesperson said in a statement. It has not explained why the results are occurring.
At the time of writing, the racist search results had not been fixed. They were first exposed by the Washington Post on Tuesday.
It is not the first time a Google search-based product has appeared to be racist. In 2010, the company’s search auto-complete system suggested racist queries after simply typing “why”, while its advertising system was shown to be 25% more likely to bring up ads for criminal record checks when searching for traditionally black names.
Both systems are automated, taking user input from the billions of searches performed using Google to predict likely queries and results.
But Google was also forced to shut off its crowd-sourced Map Maker system for Google Maps, which allowed user-generated corrections and additions to maps, after pranks including a picture of an Android robot urinating on an Apple logo.
Google said it had been experiencing “escalated attacks to spam Google Maps over the past few months”. Whether the latest incident is a hack by a third-party or an issue with Google’s algorithm is unknown.
• Google shuts off Map Maker after urinating robot ruins it for everybody