Weird Google Search bug brings up pornographic results when asked for answers to equationsFebruary 11, 2013 2 Email article | Print article
Now this is pretty weird. If you use Google Search, you might be aware that the tool can do a lot more than just finding stuff. It can convert measurements, currencies, do instant translations, and even make calculations for you. But what happens when you enter an equation that the engine misinterprets as an impossible query? Google serves you up a set of links to porn, apparently.
A user on Quora discovered this bug, and Google search engineer Jeremy Hoffman responded with this explanation:
Hi, I’m a Google search engineer. Anon User and Nicholas Moyne did some excellent analysis. As a web search query, [-4^(1/4)] is interpreted like [-4 "1 4"], as in “Find me pages which contain a 1 next to a 4, but which do not contain a 4.” This should return zero results, because it is impossible to satisfy both requirements. However, we have uncovered a bug that causes some web pages to “match” these contradictory queries
What’s interesting is that the porn results only show up with searches that include numbers, and with the exclusive part of the search coming first. The Verge notes that a lot of these pornographic websites probably use very “spammy” SEO, and are benefitting from this little bug.
I screencapped most of the results because I thought Google would’ve fixed it by now, but as of posting time a bunch of them still work. If you wanna see the bug in action for yourself, try out the links below. But remember, they are obviously NSFW. You’ve been warned!