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Google Knowledge Panel shows wrong man as serial killer

Google Knowledge Panel shows wrong man as serial killer

Hacker News buzzed because of a report that Google showed the image of an innocent man in a knowledge panel about a notorious serial killer and rapist. The topic of the wrong image wrote a blog post about his experience and a lively discussion about how unreliable Google’s knowledge panel follows.

The Google Knowledge Panel published the following post with the face of an innocent man:

“Hristo Bogdanov Georgiev, also known as the Sadist, was a Bulgarian rapist and serial killer who murdered five people, mostly women, between 1974 and 1980.”

Google Knowledge Panel and authoritative sources

The Knowledge Panel is a feature that provides instant information about devices (people, places, and things). Google typically sources information from authoritative sites about celebrities and user-surveyed sites like Wikipedia.

Google can even create a direct relationship with authoritative sites to display their data in search results.

Knowledge panel images are not always authoritative

Although textual information is carefully controlled, it appears that Google’s image information is not as strictly controlled for quality.


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According to Google’s Knowledge Panels Help Page:

“Images displayed in the knowledge panel can come from multiple sources. One source is the individuals who have claimed their knowledge panels and selected a selected image from images available on the internet.

Other images (especially when there is a collection of multiple images) are a preview of the Google Images results for the device and are automatically downloaded from across the web. ”

The fact that Google uses images from all over the Internet with seemingly less stringent quality control may explain why the images were mixed together.

Both the serial killer and the innocent man in the serial killer’s knowledge panel are natives of Bulgaria, although the innocent man is currently working in Switzerland.

It is possible that the algorithm matched the image of the innocent man to the serial killer because their names matched and they were both from Bulgaria.

So the algorithm determined that this was a possible match for a search for this name.


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One tweets about terrible mix

A man in Switzerland named Hristo Georgiev wrote a blog post about a former colleague emailing him to tell him that Google showed a picture of his face inside a knowledge graph for a search query for a man of the same name who was a notorious Bulgarian serial killer.

He wrote:

“I quickly popped out of my browser, opened Google and typed my name. And in fact, my picture popped up over a description of a Bulgarian serial killer. ”

He went on to write a tweet about it.

“It seems that Google mistakenly links a photo of me to a Wikipedia article by a serial killer. I do not know if this is funny or scary. ”

Looks like Google mistakenly linked a photo of me to a Wikipedia article by a serial killer. I do not know if it’s funny or scary.

– Hristo Georgiev (@hggeorgievcom) June 24, 2021

The innocent man’s initial reaction was that he was the victim of a joke. He expressed confusion as to why this would happen to him because his name was common.

“… my name is not special or unique at all; there are literally hundreds of other people with my name, and despite all this, my personal photo was linked to a serial killer. ”

He wrote that he was submitting a report to Google about the wrong knowledge panel.

A staff software engineer on Google’s Chrome team tweeted seven hours after the initial tweet about the issue that he understands Google was dealing with the issue.

“Hey, sorry about that. FWIU this is handled.

(I do not represent Google in my tweets) ”

hey, sorry about that. FWIU this is handled.

(I do not represent Google in my tweets)

– Nodir 🚫🦌 (@nodirt_) June 25, 2021

False news, Cancel culture and career influences

It was a few years ago that Google’s knowledge panel proclaimed that a Battlestar Galactica actor, Paul Campbell, was dead, even though he was alive a lot, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.


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But apparently a cast announced the director’s agent that he thought the actor was dead.

While the innocent man in this situation took it all in stride, he took a break to reflect on how this kind of incident can have a negative impact.

He wrote:

“… the fact that an algorithm used by billions of people so easily can bend information in such ways is really scary.”


Blog posts from the topic of knowledge panel errors
Google made me a serial killer

Hacker News
Google made me a serial killer

Google Knowledge Panel Help Page

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