Google was auto-correcting searches so that they read “Muslims support terrorism,” according to reports.
In a slip-up that has now been fixed, Google would tell people searching for “Muslims report terrorism” that they might have been looking instead for “Muslims support terrorism.”
The problem appears to have appeared automatically, and through no manual input from anyone at Google. It instead seems to be a result of the huge number of people searching for and writing that Muslims support acts of terror.
Google’s auto-correcting feature is thought to work by analyzing words that tend to occur around each other, meaning that its computers are able to guess that one word is out of place, and what it might be supposed to read. But it appears to have done that for the terrorism phrase, with “support” being written around the world Muslims and terrorism so much more that the algorithm saw it as an error.
Hind Makki, a blogger who first found the issue, told Quartz that she had found it while looking for a report specifically about the fact that Muslims do report suspicions of terrorism.
The auto-correct has now been removed. It isn’t clear whether that was manually removed by Google, or if the articles posted about it have meant that “Muslims report terrorism” has been written together enough to alter Google’s calculations.