Ornamental in Nature

Are Nazis hiding their paraphernalia under innocuous search terms, or is Google failing to respond to an algorithmic crisis? Either could be true based on today's tweetstorm about WWII-era paperweights and décor.

The saga stared yesterday, when former Cracked editor and scifi author Jason Pargin asked followers if they, too, were getting tons of images of Nazi memorabilia when Googling the phrase "desk ornament." Turns out a bunch of them were — including Futurism, where we were still experiencing the bizarre results at press time — and the problem is so big it elicited an official response from the company.

"Apologies for this," Google's reputation fixer Danny Sullivan tweeted in response today. "Agree not what most people would expect nor desire, even if there are sadly apparently a lot of these things described using those terms (which is what we match against). We'll look at how to improve here."

Comment Section

The replies to Sullivan's explanation have been surly at best and rightfully angry most of the time.

"Are you seriously arguing that the majority of popular desk ornaments in the world are swastikas and SS runes?" one Twitter netizen asked. "This isn’t a 'the scraper screwed up' thing. This is a human act."

One user said they also experience bugs with Google Search's time filters, and another said the entire algorithm is plain broken.

"Dan, I'm not trying to beat up on you here because it didn't start under your watch I'm guessing," one commenter said. "But, the search engine is in really bad shape generally right now. It's a mess man."

More on big tech mess ups: Former Employee Accuses Zuckerberg of Brandishing Ninja Sword When He Was Angry With Programmers