Here’s the Story Behind Comcast’s Swastika Problem on Google

The telecom giant has repeatedly been associated with the hateful symbol in Google search results, and it’s unclear whether the problem will ever really go away.

Comcast has repeatedly been associated with the swastika in Google search results. (Jeff Fusco/AP Images for Comcast )

If you searched for Comcast via Google last week, chances are you might’ve come across a swastika mixed in with images of the telecom giant’s logo. Before you let conspiracy theories get the best of you, you should know that Google’s algorithm is reportedly in the wrong.

Though the tech giant corrected the problem late last week, the swastika search result for Comcast has been a recurring hitch. Two years ago, an anti-Comcast Reddit page led many of the company’s haters to “click on an image of the symbol of Nazi Germany with an embedded Comcast logo,” the Inquirer reports.

And because more than 60,000 users clicked on the image, Google’s algorithm rendered it popular, giving the malicious symbol a spot in search results along with images of Comcast TV remotes, Xfinity routers and the Xfinity logo.

And, of course, Comcast isn’t thrilled about the search results. In a statement to the Inquirer the company said:

“This use of a despicable symbol is in no way authorized by Comcast. It is an offensive image that someone has posted on the internet, and we are working with Google to address it immediately. We have again asked Google to permanently remove this image from their search algorithm as we have in the past.”

Google, which Trump recently accused of burying conservative news in search results, says it took manual action to disassociate the swastika from Comcast. In a statement, the company said search results are automatically generated based on information from the web and relevance to a user. But unfortunately, its system can incorrectly associate an image with a given entity based on whether people “vandalize public information sources, like Wikipedia.”

And Comcast isn’t alone, the Inquirer notes. Companies like American Airlines and McDonald’s, and even the California Republican Party, have been linked with inappropriate images in Google searches.

Google has repeatedly defended itself  saying it issues hundreds of improvements to its algorithms each year to “ensure they surface high-quality content in response to users’ queries.”