Thu. Dec 3rd, 2020

Churchill's picture disappeared from Google's search results in APRIL

7 min read

Google claims Winston Churchill’s picture disappeared from its search results two months ago due to ‘a bug in the system’ and NOT in response to Black Lives Matter protests

  • Former prime minister’s picture vanished from Google’s list of British leaders 
  • Was spotted over the weekend during violent protests from far-right groups
  • Churchill’s statue was boarded up to protect against BLM protesters
  • Some people thought Google removed Churchill’s image in response to BLM 
  • Google confirmed this was not the case and was instead it was caused by a long-standing bug which saw Churchill without a search image for almost two months

Google has revealed the image of Sir Winston Churchill that was noticeably absent from its image results yesterday first went missing in April.

The company’s automatic system had picked a photo of the former British prime minister as a younger man, but users complained that it was ‘not representative’ of how he was best known. 

In response, humans working for Google stopped the photo from being used, and the system was supposed to automatically select a new one soon after.

However, Google said in a statement that a bug stopped this from happening, and left the wartime leader without an image in search results for more than six weeks. 

Social media users spotted Churchill’s lack of a photo on Google over the weekend, during violent protests from far-right thugs claiming to be defending his statue in Parliament Square, as well as other monuments, such as the cenotaph. 

This prompted rumours that the image had been removed in response to political pressure from the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement. 

However, Google insists that the removal was ‘not purposeful’, and has apologised for any concern caused. The image of Churchill has now been replaced.  

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Internet users spotted over the weekend that Winston Churchill’s picture disappeared from Google’s list of British prime ministers. Google has revealed it was due to a bug in the systems and ha been like that since April 

An automatic system picks an image of historical figures to show on Google’s search results and this photo of a younger Churchill was selected by the algorithm. However, users and reviewers agreed that it was not representative of how Churchill is best known, which is as an older man 

After it emerged online that Winston Churchill’s face was missing from the Google search screen, some people were left enraged.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden was among those to express ‘concern’ that Churchill’s face had gone missing. 

Google addressed the issue in a statement released yesterday evening. 

‘At the end of April, we received feedback that the image of Winston Churchill automatically selected by our systems wasn’t representative of him,’ a spokesperson said.

‘The systems had selected a picture of a young Winston Churchill, while he’s more famously and iconically pictured when older.

‘Following our standard procedures, human reviewers processed the feedback, determined that the image displayed wasn’t the most representative of Churchill, and we blocked the unrepresentative image to allow the systems to automatically select a different one.

‘However, in this case, an error in our systems prevented a new, more representative image from being selected.

‘As a result, Churchill’s entry did not display any image from late April until this weekend, when this issue was brought to our attention and quickly fixed.’ 

Google also confirmed it was looking into why the dates of the first terms in office of some UK prime ministers, including Churchill, Harold Wilson, Ramsay MacDonald and Stanley Baldwin were not being properly shown. 

Over the weekend, a far-right mob of predominantly white thugs was at the centre of violent clashes with both BLM protesters and the police. 

People from all across the UK traipsed across the county in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic because they felt the need to defend Churchill’s statue. 

The statue was boarded up ahead of the protests to prevent it from being torn down, as happened to slave trader Edward Colston’s statue in Bristol. 

Imarn Ayton, 29, who has given speeches alongside Star Wars actor John Boyega in support of the BLM movement, said the monument to Churchill is offensive due to his history of racist remarks and it should be moved to a museum.

Even Churchill’s granddaughter Emma Soames, after seeing the statue daubed with ‘was a racist’, said that if people were ‘so infuriated’ it may be ‘safer’ in a museum. 

Other ‘racist’ historical figures are now the focal points of a campaign which hopes to remove them from public places and put them in museums. 

Google revealed the image of Churchill had been missing since April due to a bug in the systems. However, when the protests brought the absence of his image to the fore, the company fixed the issue (pictured)

Pictured, how Winston Churchill’s profile appears in Google searches now, after the bug was fixed and his photo updated 

Churchill, who led the fight against the fascist Germans in World War Two, also held undoubtedly racist views. 

For example, he mandated that Indian officers fighting for the Allied forces must salute British soldiers. 

However, British soldiers were not required to salute Indian officers, because it would be improper to force white men to suffer ‘the humiliation of being ordered about by a brown man’. 

Boris Johnson defends Churchill and criticises ‘distortion of history’ 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that Britain cannot ‘photoshop’ its cultural landscape and complex history as doing so would be a distortion of its past, amid an ongoing row over the removal of statues of historical figures.

‘If we start purging the record and removing the images of all but those whose attitudes conform to our own, we are engaged in a great lie, a distortion of our history,’ Mr Johnson wrote in The Telegraph.

Johnson also defended Winston Churchill and said that it was ‘absurd and deplorable’ that the former prime minister’s monument should have been in any danger.

‘He was a hero, and I expect I am not alone in saying that I will resist with every breath in my body any attempt to remove that statue from Parliament Square, and the sooner his protective shielding comes off the better,’ he said.

As well as around the boarded up Churchill statue, far-right yobs also raucously gathered in Trafalgar Square, Waterloo station and at the cenotaph.

Their presence coincided with physical confrontations, dwarfing any seen during previous protests by people pushing for equality and the abolition of systemic racism in the UK and abroad. 

One protester who formed part of the throng of thugs wreaking havoc across the capital was 28-year-old Andrew Banks, of Stansted, Essex.

He was one of many who claim the purpose of their football chants, topless melees and pyrotechnic demonstrations was to honour national heroes and soldiers who lost their lives in service to their country.  

Mr Banks was pictured urinating over a war memorial to murdered PC Keith Palmer during the Saturday protests. 

Police charged Mr Banks with outraging public decency on Sunday night after handing himself into the police. 

He later appeared at Westminster Magistrates’ Court and admitted the offence. He has now been jailed for 14 days by magistrates. 

Prosecutor Michael Mallon said Banks, a Tottenham Hotspur fan, was in central London to ‘protect statues’, but admitted he did not know which statues.

He was said to have drunk 16 pints during Friday night into Saturday morning, and had not been to sleep.

Banks’s counsel, Stuart Harris, said his client was ‘ashamed by his action’, and had mental health issues.

Churchill’s statue in Westminster was daubed with ‘was a racist’ during an anti-racism march in the capital last week (pictured)

The wartime leader’s statue in parliament square was covered up to protect it from further damage during protests over the weekend. More than 100 people were arrested in London on Saturday following protests

Other statues across the capital, including Nelson Mandela’s (pictured), were also covered in order to protect them from protests

Police fight to maintain control in Trafalgar Square amid both Black Lives Matter and pro-statue protests in London yesterday

Boris Johnson spoke out against what he described as the ‘racist thuggery’ seen during the far-right demonstrations after criticism for his response to the unrest.

In an article for the Telegraph, a newspaper he was once a columnist for, published today, he defended Winston Churchill and said that it was ‘absurd and deplorable’ that the former prime minister’s monument should have been in any danger.

‘He was a hero, and I expect I am not alone in saying that I will resist with every breath in my body any attempt to remove that statue from Parliament Square, and the sooner his protective shielding comes off the better,’ he said. 

In one of his previous columns, dated August 2018, Boris Johnson used his platform to say it was ‘absolutely ridiculous’ that Muslim women chose to ‘go around looking like letterboxes’. 

The Prime Minister also compared these women, wearing the traditional burkha, to ‘bank robbers’. 

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