Why did an offensive Greggs logo appear in Google’s web search? | Technology


Greggs clashed with Google’s algorithm on Tuesday when an alternative logo appeared to anyone researching the company.

Instead of the official company logo, an image with the slogan: “Providing shit to scum for over 70 years.” Classist, rude and far from the current slogan of the company: “Always fresh. Always tasty. But it made people laugh on Twitter nonetheless.

Cue a social media nightmare for reasonably priced sausage roll vendors, whose communications team quickly responded to amused tweeters via their official account.

But how does this even happen? Some tweeters were quick to blame “a disgruntled employee”. We don’t know who created the logo, which seems to exist since 2010, but the search bit certainly has nothing to do with Greggs.

This is by no means an isolated problem. Like other news organizations pointed out, if you search for Richard Littlejohn of the Daily Mail, you get a photo of him with his mouth replaced with another hole. And earlier this month you got some interesting results when looking for Skellow in Yorkshire.

Greggs and Littlejohn’s images are from Uncyclopedia, a satirical version of Wikipedia. But the images and the site are hosted by Wikia, a free web hosting service that hosts images and other content for all kinds of user-driven sites called wiki. It therefore hosts images for everything, satirical or not.

Google writes programs and formulas to try to get the best possible results for anyone looking for a specific topic. He’s got a lot to do, crawling more than 60,000 billion individual pages on the Internet to find the content most applicable to what people want to see. Pages are ranked by Google according to their usefulness.

The problem is, because Wikia hosts a large amount of reliable content and is likely marked as a quality source, Google’s algorithm can’t really say the image is satirical. And, presumably, no human at Google has yet verified.

On the plus side, whoever fixes it gets all those donuts.

UPDATE: To Greggs’ delight, Google has now fixed the problem.

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