Google shows Kannada as ‘ugliest language’, removes Search result after outrage

Bengaluru: Google on Thursday drew the ire of several people as well as politicians in Karnataka, including former Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy, after they discovered that a query for the “ugliest language in India” turned into Kannada on top of its search results.

Thousands of Kannadigas took to social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook to protest. Some even started an online petition—which as of writing this story had over 8,500 signatories—to get Google to take down the result.

By late evening, soon after the outrage, the website which was at the top of Google’s search results for the offending query seemed to have removed the content from its page.

“As soon as we heard about it, we got in touch with Google India executives, and they took down the offensive content,” the state’s IT director Meena Nagaraj told ET.

Still, users continued to voice their protest, asking Google parent Alphabet Inc.’s chief executive, the India-born Sundar Pichai, to tender an apology.

PC Mohan, the BJP MP representing the central Bengaluru constituency, also sought an apology from the tech giant.

Responding to ET’s queries on the matter, a Google spokesperson said: “Search isn’t always perfect. Sometimes, the way content is described on the Internet can yield surprising results to specific queries. We know this is not ideal, but we take swift corrective action when we are made aware of an issue and are continually working to improve our algorithms.”

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“Naturally, these are not reflective of the opinions of Google, and we apologize for the misunderstanding and hurting any sentiments,” the spokesperson said.

Kannada and Culture Minister Aravind Limbavali said the state government would issue a notice to Google India. He will also discuss with the law department on the next course of legal action against the company, Limbavali added.

It was not immediately clear whether the government would treat the matter as closed since Google had acted swiftly or whether it would seek a formal report from the company.



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