In case you've been living in a news-free bubble, the Google Kannada language controversy is currently the talk of the town. A mistake, rage and an apology later, we are still quite obsessed about what went wrong. Here's a quick low-down on the controversy and what might have led to Google's oversight. Yesterday, Twitterati erupted with several Kannadigas, including political representatives and activists taking offence over how the Google search engine depicted the Kannada language as 'ugliest language in India. However, it should be noted that the same search engine also called it 'Queen of languages in the world.' What followed was copious tweets and retweets asking google to rectify the offence and issue an apology.
The tweet that basically started it all
Kannada is one of the oldest languages in the world. It's a beautiful language. Please make changes. Everyone loves their mother tongue ,there cannot be ugliest language.
Please do the needful pic.twitter.com/imU058Rzt0
— Ashwini M Sripad/ಅಶ್ವಿನಿ ಎಂ ಶ್ರೀಪಾದ್ (@AshwiniMS_TNIE) June 3, 2021
It reaches higher powers
"This is a very condemnable thing. If Google or anyone else behaves in contempt of Kannada language or insults Kannada, appropriate action will be taken against them," said Karnataka's Minister for Forest, Kannada and Culture Arvind Limbawali.
If Kannada is now called ugliest language in India, it is merely an attempt by @Google to insult this pride of Kannadigas. Demand apology from @Google ASAP to Kannada, Kannadigas. Legal action will be taken against @Google for maligning the image of our beautiful language! 2/2
— Aravind Limbavali (@ArvindLBJP) June 3, 2021
After facing falk from several political fronts, with H D Kumaraswamy expressing his indignation against Google in a series of tweets, sought to know why Google "behaves in an irresponsible manner."
ಭಾಷೆ ವಿಚಾರದಲ್ಲಿ @GoogleIndia @Google ಯಾಕಿಷ್ಟು ಅಸೂಕ್ಷ್ಮವಾಗಿ ನಡೆದುಕೊಳ್ಳುತ್ತದೆ? 'Ugliest language in India' ಎಂಬ ಹುಡುಕಾಟಕ್ಕೆ #Kannada ಎಂದು ಉತ್ತರ ನೀಡುತ್ತಿದ್ದ ವೆಬ್ ಪುಟ ತೆಗೆದು ಹಾಕಲು ಕನ್ನಡಿಗರು ಬಂಡೇಳಬೇಕಾಯ್ತೆ? ಯಾವುದೇ ಭಾಷೆ ವಿರುದ್ಧದ ಇಂಥ ದ್ವೇಷವನ್ನು ಮೊದಲೇ ನಿಯಂತ್ರಿಸಲು Googleಗೆ ಅಸಾಧ್ಯವೇ?
— H D Kumaraswamy (@hd_kumaraswamy) June 3, 2021
BJP's Bengaluru Central MP, P C Mohan slammed Google and asked it to apologise.
Home to the great Vijayanagara Empire, #Kannada language has a rich heritage, a glorious legacy and a unique culture. One of the world’s oldest languages Kannada had great scholars who wrote epics much before Geoffrey Chaucer was born in the 14th century. Apologise @GoogleIndia. pic.twitter.com/Xie927D0mf
— P C Mohan (@PCMohanMP) June 3, 2021
The tweets spread like wildfire and google was quick to note, rectify the issue and promptly issue an apology. The apology which was also put out in Kannada "Search isn't always perfect. Sometimes, the way content is described on the Internet can yield surprising results to specific queries. We know this is not ideal, but we take swift corrective action when we are made aware of an issue and are continually working to improve our algorithms. Naturally, these are not reflective of the opinions of Google, and we apologize for the misunderstanding and hurting any sentiments."
We apologize for the misunderstanding and hurting any sentiments. pic.twitter.com/nltsVezdLQ
— Google India (@GoogleIndia) June 3, 2021
So how did google get into trouble?
Google search engine is algorithm-based and these algorithms scale through copious keywords from websites and their online content. Search engine Optimization or SEO at work. When you type in a word on the search engine, the algorithm goes to work, scouring the websites where the words are frequently used and viewed by other users. They then provide the result depending on the articles which have related keywords. While the search engine might not be solely to blame for the faux-pas, the people who've previously exhibited those views on their websites are mostly culpable of the offence.
(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on Jun 04, 2021 03:57 PM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website latestly.com).