Hack or Glitch? Google Image Search Only Displays Car Crash

Google Image Search users received an interesting surprise on August 26. Instead of displaying the results related to their search terms, they saw images of a Russian car crash.

Search Engine Roundtable was among the first to report on the glitch Tuesday morning, but by the time the story was posted around 10 a.m., Google had allegedly fixed the issue.

Users nevertheless took to a Google Product forum to ask questions.

The first post was from a user named "DarthNeko," who said:

"Every time I search something in Google images, these creepy images are appearing. It's apparently a crashed truck or something, but I didn't look it up. People could say that it had something to do with what I was searching but if I click on it, a different image appears."

DarthNeko also included a few screenshots of the search results as shown below.

russian-car-crash-vai-darthneko

Google quickly addressed the situation by asking users to refresh their browsers and clear the cache and cookies. Google even went so far as to ask users to reinstall their browsers, but users continued to post complaints throughout the morning.

One user, "Chris Markiewicz," responded to Google's apparent recommendations by saying, "It's not just on one account or one computer. I've logged out of Chrome, Safari, IE, and Firefox and tried multiple accounts, and all of them have this issue."

Markiewicz's results appeared to be even more overrun by the image than the first user who posted on the issue.

car-crash-via-chris

Multiple users insinuated this was the work of Ukrainian or Russian hackers.

Eventually, one user pointed out that the image came from a Ukrainian website called Karpatnews.

It appears the issue could not be duplicated using Bing's search engine.

Interestingly, when users clicked on an image of the crash, it did not actually take them to the corresponding page. They were instead sent to an image from their initial search.

As of August 27, there has been no official statement from Google on whether there was a glitch in the system or if it was indeed hacked.

About the author

Ashley Zeckman is the Director of Marketing for Benovate, a Minneapolis based health management company. She is responsible for the digital marketing strategy for the organization which includes search engine optimization, social media, and content marketing. She also provides guidance on communications best practices and on the communications support available for each client's unique business needs and budget.

Prior to joining Benovate, Ashley was a Communications Manager for RedBrick Health. Ashley also held the position of Marketing Manager for TopRank Online Marketing, a digital marketing agency. Her areas of expertise include communications, client relations, integrated marketing, online marketing, marketing strategy, content marketing, SEO, digital PR, blogging, B2B and B2C marketing, customer segmentation, and social media strategy.