Programming Note: This site will be on break through the holidays and return in January. Be sure to subscribe or check back for updates!

Snippet: Google Thought My Phone Number Was Facebook’s and It Ruined My Life ☇

Shared on May 13, 2019

Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai for Vice/Motherboard:

But on this query, Google’s algorithm was clearly broken—for some reason, it thought it was a good idea to extract and prominently display a phone number from article hosted on that’s titled “Facebook’s Phone Number Policy Could Push Users to Not Trust Two-Factor Authentication.”

Google’s search algorithms are why it became so powerful in the first place, but sometimes, however, the algorithm is painfully stupid. In 2017, The Outline showed that Google often displayed completely wrong information at the top of the results when people searched for things like “Was President Warren Harding a member of the KKK?” or “Why are firetrucks red?” The article delved into the so-called “featured snippets,” those big boxes at the top of search results that are supposed to give users a quick answer to what they’re looking for.

Of course Google is trying to surface as much good information as possible and make it readily available to users, there’s a point where things start to break down. Furthermore, it may be difficult to reach someone to actually help, especially if you aren’t a writer for a larger publication.

I also question the people calling that number—where’s the common sense that the main customer service number for one of the biggest tech companies probably is a toll-free number (800, 888, 877, etc.)?

Snippets are posts that share a linked item with a bit of commentary.