Google to change Maps search system after offensive White House results

Some searches for racist terms that previously triggered the White House now return nothing

Google I/O 2013

Google I/O 2013

Google said Thursday it would make changes to its Maps search system after racist search terms brought up the White House among their top results.

In Google Maps, some queries containing racist terms against African-Americans listed the White House and other surprising places among their top results. Google apologized and said it was working on a fix, but it had little else to say about what was causing the results to appear or how the company would fix the issue.

Now Google is providing more information. The company has begun to update its ranking system to address a majority of the searches in question, by building on a previous algorithmic change that was developed for Google Search, Google said in a blog post.

The previous change Google made to its algorithm, around 2007, was designed to address instances when some sites would rank more highly in search results for meaningless queries due to pranks by users.

The results recently spotted in Maps typically were triggered because people had used the offensive term in online discussions of the place, Google said in its blog post. As a result, "inappropriate" results surfaced that users probably weren't looking for, the company said.

For the racist term searches, Google's changes seem to already have had an effect. On Thursday, some searches that previously returned the White House instead gave no result.

In general, Google Maps returns results based on content about businesses and other public places from across the Web.

Zach Miners covers social networking, search and general technology news for IDG News Service. Follow Zach on Twitter at @zachminers. Zach's e-mail address is zach_miners@idg.com

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags mobileinternetGooglesearch enginesanalyticsInternet-based applications and services

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Zach Miners

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?