Google Autocomplete amplifies Texas massacre Antifa conspiracy

Occurred: November 2017

Google was accused of disseminating disinformation and propaganda about a US mass shooter in the wake of a massacre of 26 people in Sutherland Springs, Texas.

Former US Air Force member Devin Patrick Kelley was quickly associated with links to anti-fascist umbrella group Antifa, despite there being little or no evidence that this was true. The allegation had been made by several right-wing politicians, activists, and commentators on Twitter and elsewhere, and had been picked up by Google's search-related algorithms.

The incident prompted questions about the accuracy, reliability and governance of the technology company's Autocomplete search prediction system.

Google and others regularly blamed algorithms when they spread misinformation and disinformation, and refuse to acknowledge responsibility for the risks their systems pose, and the impacts they cause.

Operator: Alphabet/Google/YouTube
Developer: Alphabet/Google/YouTube
Country: USA
Sector: Politics
Purpose: Predict search results
Technology: NLP/text analysis; Deep learning; Machine learning  
Issue: Accuracy/reliability; Mis/disinformation
Transparency: Governance; Black box

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