One of the Bitcoin community’s most intractable messaging problems is the incorrect assumption that any one person is in charge—a common misunderstanding for people who don’t have much experience with open source protocols. There is no Bitcoin company, and it has no CEO or board of directors; that is, unless you ask Google.
As Redditors first pointed out, and Motherboard confirmed, if you search “CEO of Bitcoin” or “Bitcoin CEO” in Google’s search engine, an information carousel informs you that the cryptocurrency has several CEOs—among them the chief executive officer of JPMorgan Chase Jamie Dimon, who called cryptocurrencies a “scam” in August; superstar investor Warren Buffett, who recently called Bitcoin “rat poison squared;” and Mastercard CEO Ajay Banga, who said cryptocurrencies were “junk” in July.
Wow, Bitcoin’s CEOs seem to really hate Bitcoin!
Google introduced information carousels that algorithmically attempt to answer a user’s search query inside the search engine itself in 2012. The frequent (and sometimes, as the Bitcoin CEO example illustrates, hilarious) inaccuracy of similar features, like Google’s “featured snippets,” is notorious and well documented.
“Entities in the Knowledge Graph and associations between them are automatically generated based on available information on the web,” a Google spokesperson wrote Motherboard in an email. “It’s not always perfect, and when we’re made aware of incorrect associations, we work to fix the error.”
Given that nobody really understands Bitcoin, Google surely isn’t helping by telling people that some of Bitcoin’s most high-profile haters are actually in charge.
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Update: This article was updated with comment from a Google spokesperson.
Correction: This article referred to the information carousel as a “featured snippet”—while it is similar to that product, Google has no specific name for this algorithmic presentation of information from search results. Motherboard regrets the error.