A Google search for North Carolina Republican Sen. Trudy Wade on Friday was paired with a preview photo that had the word “Bigot” written across the bottom of it in bold red letters.
The image appeared in the “knowledge panel,” a search results box that appears on the right side of the screen. The panel is used to give users quick information about a topic.
NEW: Google is labeling Trump-supporting Republican state senator a “BIGOT” https://t.co/0xdC94mfoF— VICE News (@VICE News) 1527887943.0
Google often uses third-party information in the knowledge panel. That leaves the feature open to exploitation, which can be dangerous in a highly-competitive election season.
Wade's photo was linked from a 2012 blog post by LGBT activist Matt Comer, who was upset about Wade’s support for banning same-sex marriages and civil unions, Vice News reported. Voters later approved the measure.
How bad is this?
Wade, a Trump supporter, is facing a re-election battle against Democrat Michael Garrett, a marketing executive.
Additionally, the state’s district maps were redrawn for this year’s election because several courts ruled that “the state had been racially gerrymandered to benefit Republicans,” according to Vice News.
The redrawn boundaries have made Wade and the 27th district a top target for liberals, the report states.
A local group called “Flip NC” is targeting the 27th district as one of the nations “most flippable,” according to the report.
Republicans have a supermajority in the state legislature, which allows them to override vetoes by the Democratic governor.
Google issued an apology and removed the image after Vice News published a story about the photo.
The internet giant wrote in a statement: "Information and images from our Knowledge Panels are automatically sourced from around the web. When we are alerted to issues like this, we move quickly to fix the problem, as we did in this case."
In a Tweet, Google urged political candidates to "get verified to select their own image, which can help prevent this in the future."
But it marked the second time this week that inflammatory information appeared in search results relating to Republican candidates.
Weren't Republicans just called 'Nazis' on Google?
On Thursday, Google listed “Nazism” as one of the ideologies of the California Republican Party in the “knowledge” box of search results.
Google blamed third-party sites such as Wikipedia for causing such mishaps.
“Sometimes people vandalize public information sources, like Wikipedia, which can impact the information that appears in search,” a Google spokesperson stated.
@DRUDGE_REPORT In this instance, the image was hosted on a student news blog. Upon being alerted to this issue, we… https://t.co/QxUeSAHvgP— Google Communications (@Google Communications) 1527902610.0