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.
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.
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.