Don’t Believe Everything You Rudd

Google has increasingly been showing informational results directly in search results. (They’ve been doing this for quite a while with their Calculator feature, of course. So, if you search for ‘5 x 10’, Google will display ‘5 x 10 = 50’ above the linked results.) The idea is that, when people do searches for a particular piece of information, they want that information, not just a list of links to websites which might contain that information.

So, I was surprised to see the following result when I did a search for ‘prime minister of australia’ on Google.com:

Google says the Prime Minister of Australia is Kevin Rudd.

But, of course, Kevin Rudd hasn’t been the Prime Minister of Australia since the end of June. Australia’s current PM is Julia Gillard, the hottest Prime Minister since Yulia Tymoshenko.

(Surprisingly, even Google.com.au, Google’s Australian page, says that the Prime Minister is Kevin Rudd.)

Clicking on ‘Show sources’ indeed does bring up a list of articles from authoritative sources like the New York Times and the BBC, as well as Wikipedia. (On the Australian page the sources include the Sydney Morning Herald and the official site of the Parliament of Australia.) But, ironically, most of the news articles are from late June about Julia Gillard becoming Prime Minister. (The Wikipedia article says that she is the current Prime Minister, but apparently Google hasn’t visited that page since she took office.)

I clicked on the ‘Feedback’ link to let Google know that, No, in fact Kevin Rudd is not the Prime Minister of Australia. Ideally, though, Google should show some little disclaimer stating when they accessed the information in question, so that we’ll know how recent and reliable it is.

(Until then, just keep in mind that not every single thing you read on the Internet is 100% true.)

[UPDATE: After only about 5 months into her term, Google has finally admitted that the Prime Minister of Australia is Julia Gillard and not Kevin Rudd. See screenshot and blog post here.]

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