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Google highlights Scarborough day after Toronto council asks for apology over image controversy

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)

A day after Toronto city council asked Google for an apology after the company says an algorithm set the feature image for Scarborough as a blown out wall of a home, the company has turned to social media to pay tribute to the east-end community.

“How much do we ❤︎ you Scarborough? Let us count the ways… #ScarbTO,” a seven-part message posted on Twitter on Wednesday said.

The Twitter thread goes on to promote the Scarborough Bluffs, Scarborough-born and late night television host Lilly Singh, Rouge National Urban Park, the Toronto Zoo and The Markham Station restaurant.

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

“Scarborough is more than just a Google Search result and we know that we’ve only scratched the surface on why it’s a wonderful place to visit and live,” the last message in the thread said, calling on users to share why they love Scarborough.

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On Nov. 20, 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 a computer algorithm. The company moved to remove the image soon after the issue was raised, instead just showing a Google map of the area.

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

During its meeting on Tuesday, Toronto city council passed a motion by Coun. Michael Thompson calling on Google to set right a “misleading portrayal of Scarborough.”

“(That) city council request the mayor to write to senior executives of Google Canada to express council’s disappointment in their search engine’s inappropriate depiction of Scarborough, request a public apology to the people of Scarborough for choosing a demeaning and misleading photo to represent their community, and request that Google post a photograph in its place that is in keeping with the images used for other municipalities,” the motion said.

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It also called for the City of Toronto’s photo laureate to commission a photographic project or contest to highlight the best of Scarborough.

As of Wednesday evening, it was unclear what, if any, further action Google Canada might be taking to address the concerns raised.

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