Recently, Google users across the world found something peculiar in their search results. Rather than the relevant photos that often accompany news stories, many users instead saw images of a mangled car, crashed into a road sign that read “Stop” in Russian. Not all users reported the problem, but for those that did, the accident photo was the only one they’d see, regardless of their search query. Google Image Search was similarly affected, with the car crash image appearing repeatedly amongst the correct search results.
Oddity Crosses Geographical & Technological Boundaries
The early morning fluke was reported by Google users in countries from Germany to Brazil, and by users of various web browsers, even in “private” browsing sessions. Though the issue was corrected by roughly 11AM, there was no official comment from Google. A company representative stated via its customer support forums that the matter was being investigated.
Though a simple technical glitch or system crash may well have been the culprit, the lack of a definitive answer from teh Googz has led widespread speculation that the tech giant may have been hacked. With other high profile hacking cases in the news recently, it’s not hard to imagine that Google may have been a target.
Earlier in August, a Russian crime ring reportedly obtained over a billion stolen internet credentials via hackery. Sony was hacked on two different fronts simultaneously the Sunday before the Google incident. And the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has been hacked three times in as many years—which is just swell, since they’re in charge of US nuclear reactor safety and all.
The Photo In Question
Unlike the mystery of how it got there, the origin of the photo that has infiltrated Google’s search results is easy to solve. The image comes from an article in the Ukrainian KarpatNews, published in November 2012, about a major car crash (whaddaya know!?) at a Moscow bus stop. What remains unclear is just why this particular image appeared—the case surrounding the crash is long since closed, and there have been no new developments that would cause a sudden burst of relevance.
On the flip side, some users reported images of NBA basketball player/movie star Kevin Durant alongside the repeated car crash photo. He wasn’t showing up in the car crash photo (though that would’ve been brilliant fodder for a Q&D Photoshop job)—his image was interspersed randomly amongst the others.