If you’re searching Google for “the best toilet paper in the world,” you won’t come across Charmin or Angel Soft.
The top result: the green and white national flag of Pakistan.
Why? In a statement to USA TODAY on Monday, Google said it was looking into the oddity but had “not found any evidence that Google Images was ranking the Pakistani flag in response to this particular search.”
The abnormality began in the days following a Valentine’s Day terror bombing in India’s Pulwama district of Kashmir that killed 41 soldiers in a paramilitary convoy – the deadliest attack against Indian government forces in the region’s history.
“While we continue to investigate the matter, we have not found any evidence that Google Images was ranking the Pakistani flag in response to this particular search. Many news outlets wrote about an old screenshot from a meme website that is inconsistent with our UI and dates back to 2017, and we have not seen any independent verification that these results ever appeared as depicted,” the Google statement said. “Since these news stories published, images from those articles are now ranking for this query, as the pages contain words relevant to the search.”
The Pakistani militant group Jaish-e-Mohammed claimed responsibility for last week’s attack, the Greater Kashmir newspaper reported, and India Prime Minister Narendra Modi promised “a crushing response.” About 70,000 people have been killed since 1989 in Kashmir, divided between India and Pakistan and claimed by both in its entirety. The 2018 death toll was the highest in nine years, with at 260 militants, 160 civilians and 150 government forces killed.
A similar oddity popped up last summer on Google Search, when President Donald Trump’s face appeared as the top result for the word “idiot.” The British were partly to blame after using the Green Day song “American Idiot” to protest Trump’s visit to their country.
Contributing: The Associated Press