Last week, Google News paired a picture of actress Angelina Jolie with a group of stories on “terrorism charges” against three people in Bosnia.
However, if you read the stories, like the Chicago Tribune’s “Bosnia charges three with attack on US embassy”, you’ll learn that Jolie had nothing to do with the charges against Mevlid Jasarevic, Emrah Fojnica and Munib Ahmetsaphic over a 2011 “gun assault” on the U.S. embassy in Sarajevo, Bosnia. Instead, according to other articles like the Associated Press’s report, Jolie was in the news that week for being named an “honorary citizen” of Sarajevo, Bosnia.
We searched “Bosnia” on Google News a few days later and a different photo of Jolie was shown with the stories on the terrorism charges.
That image was from this Agence France-Presse report “Jolie embraced by war-wracked city.” That story reported also on Jolie’s honorary citizenship. At least in that grouping of stories, one of the reports was the Agence France-Presse report. The other three stories promoted were on the terrorism charges or war.
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The inaccurate pairing of photos of Jolie with stories on terrorism charges portrays Jolie in a false light, iMediaEthics finds, by suggesting her involvement in terrorism — not Jolie being “embraced” by Sarajevo.
We wrote earlier this month when Google News wrongly placed a photo of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper next to reports on the Secret Service prostitution scandal. That error suggested Harper was involved with the scandal — which his office confirmed to iMediaEthics is inaccurate.
In the Harper case, a representative of Google News told iMediaEthics he would provide comment after looking into the incident, but despite our follow-ups, we never learned what went wrong.
It seems as if Google News is simply grouping photos and stories on a topic even if photos are entirely unrelated to the stories.
We have again written to Google News asking why these errors are happening and what Google News is doing to fix them. We’ve also written asking if Google News posts corrections when photos are wrongly paired with stories on different topics. We will update with any response.