Two days ago, a screenshot posted on Facebook suddenly caught my attention. The screenshot showed a google search result that says, "Messi studied in an elementary school in Narayanganj, Bangladesh."
Did he though? If he did not, then why would Google show such a result on the top?
To understand that, we first have to understand how Google's searching mechanism works.
Google, just like other major search engines, uses automated programs called "spiders" or "crawlers" to generate its search results. These crawlers roam the internet to collect information about websites and individual web pages.
This massive bit of information is then stored into the server of that search engine. The whole process is also known as "indexing". Whenever a user searches for something, Google does not search the entire internet for that result. It just makes a quick search within its massive index.
While this whole process makes the web-based search engines what they are, the process is not flawless. This example of Messi studying at an elementary school is the perfect example of that. Google is only showing this result because this has been written in popular Q&A-based website Quora and in sites.google.com.
Google, providing multiple internet-related services, is expected to prioritise search results from its own vast collection of web services. The search result that appears on top is from a site made using Google Sites titled "Lionel Andres Messi Biography."
Another thing to note here is that the algorithms behind search engines are designed to match what the user searches with the information stored in the index. It usually cannot fact-check because it is not designed to do that.
If you search for "Cristiano Ronaldo education Bangladesh" on Google, it will show a Quora page on top that says "Ronaldo studied in an elementary school in Noakhali, Bangladesh."
Google shows this data because there is a page on the internet that has this written on it. It does not necessarily mean that the information is correct. It only means that some users on the internet may have taken the trolling too far.
Is it true that Messi studied at a Narayanganj school? Absolutely not! It is just a really good number of people publishing that information on different web pages all across the internet in order to manipulate Google's search results.
Another explanation behind Google showing this result can be the fact that Messi did not really go through the traditional education system. He, being a talented footballer from an early age, caught the eyes of Barcelona when he was quite young.
In 2000, Messi moved to Barcelona after the club offered to pay for his growth hormone treatment.
After spending four years at Barcelona's La Masia Youth Academy, Messi burst onto the scene in 2004, and by 2009 he was widely regarded as world football's best player.