Toronto councillor demands apology from Google after feature image for Scarborough shows collapsed wall

Click to play video: 'Councillor wants apology over Google image for Scarborough'
Councillor wants apology over Google image for Scarborough
WATCH ABOVE: Coun. Michael Thompson says he wants Google to apologize after a feature image for Scarborough on the search engine showed a collapsed wall. Tom Hayes explains – Nov 20, 2019

A City of Toronto councillor says he wants Google to apologize after company staff say an algorithm set the feature image for Scarborough as a blown out wall of a home.

“When you get an organization like Google who would take a photo of a construction incident and to impose that photo to represent our community of almost 650,000 people is extremely disappointing. It’s really upsetting. There’s so many people who work so hard on a daily basis to make this place a great place,” Coun. Michael Thompson told Global News on Wednesday.

“I demand an apology from Google, from a very senior official at Google, to our community as a whole.”

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The request comes after Mayor John Tory called for action to be taken by Google.

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Scarborough is a beautiful part of our great city. Hoping @Google and @googlecanada will shake up its algorithm or whatever needs to be done so a better photo (like this one of the Scarborough Bluffs) comes up when people Google Scarborough,” he wrote in a tweet.

On Tuesday, criticism was raised when it was discovered a photo from a February Global News story about a partial wall collapse was curated to the Google search page for Scarborough.

A Google spokesperson told Global News the image wasn’t curated by a person, but rather by technology.

“Images associated with towns or cities in the Google Search information boxes that appear next to results (Knowledge Panels) are algorithmically generated. We worked to resolve this issue as soon as it was brought to our attention,” the spokesperson said in a statement.

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“As Mayor Tory pointed out in his tweet, Scarborough is a beautiful part of this city and we would encourage people to explore further in Google Maps and Street View.”

A screenshot showing a picture of a blown out wall when the search term Scarborough is used on Google.
A screenshot showing a picture of a blown out wall when the search term Scarborough is used on Google. Screenshot / Google

Meanwhile, Thompson said there is a “tremendous transformation” that has been underway in the community in recent years. He said the image is a “great disservice” to Scarborough while also calling on the company’s founders to visit and invest in the area.

“I would like, as a start, an apology and then what I’d like Google to do is setup one of their Google campuses in Scarborough because we have a lot of young people who are highly technical — very much into technology,” he said.

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“We don’t want their ambition to basically be amputated by Google’s depiction of our community. We want to continue our proud advancement of development.”

Thompson, who noted famous Scarborough residents such as The Weeknd and Mike Myers, challenged some people to change their perceptions of the community and to enjoy the area’s many stellar natural features.

“We have some of the best parks in the entire city. We have the beautiful Bluffs. We have a lot of areas that are so amazing in terms of the greenery, the ravines … the Rouge National Park,” he said.

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