Former US President Barack Obama is in cahoots with Chinese communists. That is according to Google Home at least, which seems to be having a hard time separating fake news from facts.
As a result, the voice-activated speaker has been offering up some interesting answers to users' queries, including those related to the former Potus. Ask whether Obama is planning a coup, for example, and it'll tell you that "not only could Obama be in bed with the Communist Chinese but he may in fact be planning a Communist coup d'etat at the end of his term".
Google Home was caught giving this questionable response to BBC technology reporter Rory Cellan-Jones. Follow the answer to the source and you'll find that Google's digital assistant has taken the information from a conspiracy theory published in February 2014 by right-wing news website, Western Journalism.
Google Assistant also has some controversial views on Conservatism: Ask it if Republicans are fascists, it may tell you that "according to debate.org, Republicans equals Nazis," as it told Marketing Land Editor Danny Sullivan.
Of course neither of these answers are true, and instead highlight a major flaw in the way Google sources its answers from the web. When you type a question into Google you'll often be shown a "featured snippet" at the top of the results page. This includes a summary of the answer extracted from the website, alongside a link to the page it came from.
Naturally, the more outlandish the question the greater the likelihood that the answer will come from a questionable source. And this increases the likelihood that Google will offer an unverified or completely made-up answer to your question – such as the "fact" that five former US Presidents were supposedly members of the KKK.
It doesn't help that it comes at a time when trust in the media is at an all-time low and fake news runs rampant. Social media sites have vowed to do more to stop it spreading through their platforms unchecked, with Facebook recently introducing a "disputed" tag for trending news containing potentially inaccurate information.
After the problem was brought to attention by Quartz, Google fixed the issued manually. "Featured Snippets in Search provide an automatic and algorithmic match to a given search query, and the content comes from third-party sites," the company said.
Unfortunately, there are instances when we feature a site with inappropriate or misleading content. When we are alerted to a Featured Snippet that violates our policies, we work quickly to remove them, which we have done in this instance. We apologize for any offense this may have caused."