Google searches ‘hijacked’ to link Pakistan flag to toilet paper

Google search
Image caption An image search for “best toilet paper” returns a page filled with news story images of Pakistan’s flag

Google searches for “best toilet paper in the world” appear to have been manipulated to return images of the Pakistan national flag.

The results are believed to be the work of Indian protesters acting in response to the 14 February attack in Kashmir that left at least 40 soldiers dead.

It is the deadliest militant attack on Indian forces in Kashmir since the insurgency against Indian rule began.

Pakistan-based Islamist group Jaish-e-Mohammad said it was behind the attack.

The flag-toilet paper connection emerged soon after the attack in a few blogs commenting on the attack and became a trending topic on social media over the weekend. The number of people searching for the connection may have also influenced how Google returns results.

Now a Google search returns news stories about the link but anyone searching images for the “best toilet paper in the world” gets a page dominated by the green and white flag. Many of the images are from news stories about the connection. Others are screenshots of the critical social media posts that linked the flag to toilet paper.

Google has not yet commented on how this could have happened.

This is not the first time that a search via Google has returned curious results. Heads of state including US President Donald Trump and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi have both been linked to searches for derogatory phrases.

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