In a House Judiciary Committee hearing in US, Google CEO Sundar Pichai was asked to explain: "If you Google the word 'idiot' under images, a picture of Donald Trump comes up. How would that happen? How does search work so that that would occur?"
In the middle of a congressional hearing about privacy and data collection, Republican Zoe Lofgren, apparently performed that search from the dais. As it turns out, the image results for "idiot" reveals a page of mostly Trump photos.
Google chief executive Sundar Pichai tried to explain to the roomful of mostly tech novices how the algorithms take into account some 200 factors - such as relevance, popularity, how others are using the search term - to determine how to best match a query with results. Pichai offered a long, general explanation of how Google search works:
"Any time you type in a keyword, as Google we have gone out and crawled and stored copies of billions of [websites’] pages in our index. And we take the keyword and match it against their pages and rank them based on over 200 signals — things like relevance, freshness, popularity, how other people are using it. And based on that, at any given time, we try to rank and find the best search results for that query. And then we evaluate them with external raters, and they evaluate it to objective guidelines. And that’s how we make sure the process is working".
“So it’s not some little man sitting behind the curtain figuring out what we’re going to show the user?” Lofgren asked sarcastically.
“This is working at scale, and we don’t manually intervene on any particular search result,” replied Pichai.
"There's a lot of people that think what I'm saying here is happening," Chabot said. "And I think it's happening."