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Fact-check: Did Google really delete Churchill's photo during protests? | #TheCube

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Statue of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill in Parliament Square in London, Friday, May 8, 2020
Statue of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill in Parliament Square in London, Friday, May 8, 2020   -   Copyright  Frank Augstein/AP
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In the United Kingdom, an intense debate is being waged over whether to remove a statue of former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill.

Amid the debate, however, viral tweets this weekend suggested that Google had removed an image of Churchill from their platform when searching for past prime ministers.

Such posts quickly went viral, with other tweets asking why Churchill's photo was being removed from the search engine and not images of Adolf Hitler.

Brexit campaign group Leave.EU tweeted to say that there was a "coordinated campaign to undermine" the former prime minister, whilst US politician and Republican Devin Nunes tweeted to suggest that all images had been "wiped from the Earth".

What did Google say?

Google, however, released a lengthy statement on Twitter detailing why the image had not appeared when searching for past prime ministers.

The platforms explained that in late April, the company had received feedback that the image that appeared when searching for past prime ministers was not 'representative' of Churchill. The image had been automatically selected by Google's systems showing a younger and less recognizable Churchill.

The search engine then followed procedures, with human reviewers determining that the photograph should indeed be switched.

Normally, the company said, the image should update quickly however a bug in the system prevented a new image from uploading - meaning that a photograph of Churchill would not have appeared alongside others from late April until June 14th, when the issue was resolved.

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