Google apologised after Winston Churchill's photo disappeared from searches for World War II leaders

Business Insider US
A cushion that has been taped on the covering of a statue of Winston Churchill in London.
BEN STANSALL/AFP via Getty Images
  • Google apologised after resolving an issue that caused photos of Winston Churchill to appear blank in some search results.
  • Users found that Churchill's portrait didn't appear in results for World War II leaders or UK Prime Ministers.
  • Google's Search Liaison Twitter account recognised the search engine error, saying it "was not purposeful" and that similar issues can happen when the website makes routine updates.
  • The issue came after the former UK prime minister's statue in London's Parliament Square was defaced during anti-racism protests and later covered with a protective barrier.
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Google apologised early Sunday morning in response to user reports of Winston Churchill's photos missing from searches for UK Prime Ministers and World War II leaders.

Apparently, some users found that Churchill's photo was appearing blank in search results that appear at the top of the web page.

A screenshot that shows Churchill's missing photo.
Screenshot/Google Search
Google's Search Liaison Twitter account - which includes tweets from the company's "public liaison of search," Danny Sullivan - shares messages with followers about errors, news, and information related to the Google Search tool.

The Search Liaison account wrote that the team was aware of the missing image on Sunday and apologised for the error.

"This was not purposeful & will be resolved," the tweet read.

Google's Search Liaison went on to explain that information of Churchill's first term as UK Prime Minister from 1940 until 1945 didn't seem to appear in search results - but that this was not specific to Churchill, and it was an error that sometimes happens during an update.

"A similar thing happens with Wilson, MacDonald, and Baldwin," Google's Search Liaison said.

The issues regarding Churchill's missing photo and select information were resolved, wrote Google's Search Liaison in a tweet on Sunday.

"Again, this was not purposeful," the account shared in a message. "Our apologies for the concerns caused."

At the time of writing, Churchill's portrait appears to be restored on the search engine.

A screenshot of the resolved Google Search showing Churchill's photo restored.
Screenshot/Google Search
The incident of Churchill's missing Google Search results came after a statue of the former prime minister in London's Parliament Square was defaced - among other monuments of historic figures - during recent anti-racism protests.

Officials have since created a barrier around Churchill's monument and covered it with what looks like a box to prevent further damage as protests continue in the UK and around the world.

People gather outside the boarded-up statue of Winston Churchill on June 13, 2020.
Richard Baker / In Pictures via Getty Images
Churchill's granddaughter Emma Soames told the BBC in response to the monument's covering, she was "shocked" but understood why it was necessary.

Soames said that she thinks the statue of her grandfather may now be "safer" in a museum.

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