Google shows fire alarms advertising when searching for Grenfell Tower

Google shows fire alarms advertising when searching for Grenfell Tower

Algorithms don’t have a heart and certainly don’t have common sense. Qualities that would have suggested to avoid showing the advertising of a fire alarm company as first result when searching for “Grenfell Tower”.

It happened today on Google UK, the place many are visiting in those hours to better understand what is happening. Where is the Grenfell Tower? When was it built? What are the latest news?  All those info are displayed, but at the top screen is something else: the advertising of Fire Factor, a company offering services to avoid the risk of fire.

The company offers fire alarms, extinguishers, emergency lights and related maintenance services with the slogan “Feel safe, secure and confident“. Words that will sound insulting to those who found out this morning to be unsafe and unsecure in their own home.

A glitch in the system, certainly. Google has later corrected the result of the booking engine and is not showing the ad anymore. But this episode leaves a bad taste in the mouth, the taste that occurs when someone tries to profit during a tragedy,  when the number of casualties is still being counted.  Meanwhile, Facebook has been criticised for having asked residents in a larger area to “declare themselves safe”, a pointless request for those who did not live in the tower. A request that has been met by some with irritation and anger. Episodes that make us think about the ubiquitous, intrusive and not very transparent role of the internet giants. Companies that are integral part of our lives at a cost that we don’t really understand.


Read here the italian version of this article.