Google Blogoscoped

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Swastika Symbol in Google Trends

Odd. Google Trends’ “Hot Trends” feature, an aggregated overview of recently popular search queries, shows a swastika today in one of the top spots. A swastika has been used as a symbol for different purposes in the past, like in Hinduism and Buddhism, but it was also used by the Nazi party. Could this possibly be some kind of defacement group-effort (or scripting), trying to sneak a Unicode character into Google trends? After all, Google can be searched for symbols like Yin-Yang, the swastika and so on (though one would figure Google Trends uses a large enough statistical sampling that this can’t be easily skewed). I don’t know... perhaps this also has a more “natural” explanation.

[Thanks Zlrug and David Shaw!]

Update: Some more theories are posted in the comments. Christophe says, “Somebody posted the html code for this on 4chan’s /b/ board this morning => thousand of people googled it.” Phatsphere writes: “there are chinese newspaper articles about the use of that symbol and buddism. i think , it’s more like a coincidence...”

Update 2 (Friday): The LA Times blog got an official statement from Google, which seems to support Christophe’s earlier comment about 4chan: “The Hot Trends list is automatically generated by machines and algorithms that detect hot or breaking queries. In this case, it appears that the html code for this query was posted on a popular internet bulletin board, which led to quite a few people searching to find out more about this symbol. The Hot Trends list reflected that surge due to people searching with this query.” [Thanks Dave!]

Update 3 (Monday): Another, 180-degrees rotated oddity made it into the Google Trends top results (though I can’t see it anymore – the image is from a cached version hosted at [Thanks Ionut and Tom!]


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