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A Google search homepage on a laptop. / Photo by: Compzone08 via Pixabay

 

Vandalism on Wikipedia was blamed as the reason why Google search results incorrectly included Nazism as one of the ideologies of the California Republican Party, according to The Associated Press. 

Google deleted the erroneous citation on the party’s Wikipedia page after Vice Media took screenshots of the vandalized knowledge panel (the box that shows up to the right of search results). The online search giant said the error was caused by vandalized public information sources getting past systems meant to spot them. The information found on Google's knowledge panels, such as the one purportedly claiming that the California Republican Party espouses Nazism, comes from public sources such as Wikipedia.

The online search giant issued a statement apologizing for the error but said it was not caused by their own manual changes. It added that they have systems that intercept vandalism before it makes its way to the search results, but sometimes errors slip through such systems. Google added that once they noticed the vandalized knowledge panel they immediately accelerated the process to expunge the false information.  

An unidentified user added the term “Nazism” to the entry for the California GOP but was reversed by another editor a week afterwards. A second similar change was reverted on the same day, based on data from Wikipedia’s publicly available change log. 
 
Cynthia Bryant, executive director of the California Republican Party, said being associated with Nazism was libelous and that Wikipedia and Google should be made accountable for what is published on their sites. Republican Representative Kevin McCarthy, for his part, denounced as disgraceful that millions of California Republicans have been labeled as Nazis by Google. 

Previously, the party had withdrawn its support for 11th District candidate John Fitzgerald due to his anti-Semitic comments. It also barred neo-Nazi Senate candidate Patrick Little from attending its state convention. It said that there was no room in the California Republican Party for the hate speech that came from Little. His prior comments praised Adolf Hitler and called for limiting the representation of Jews in government.