A Bug Can Manipulate Google Search Results by Tweaking URL

Google search results listings can be hacked for biased and misleading informationNews regarding a security bug in the Google services has been circulating for many years. Unfortunately, the tech giant has failed to take action of the same and the rumor mill is churning.

According to reports, anyone can exploit the bug to manipulate Google search results. In a blog post titled “Spoofing Google Search Results,” a London-based security analyst describes how a “knowledge graph” can be modified for different search queries.

The knowledge graph of Google refers to the snippet box displayed in the search results where the company displays quick information related to a query added by the user. Knowledge graph is usually located on the right side of the search results page.

When a user clicks on the share button in the snippet, a short URL appears that contains a unique knowledge graph ID. This line of code &kgmid can be added into the web address of a search query to display a knowledge graph in any search result.
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For example, a user can manipulate the search query, “Who is the responsible for 9/11 incident?” by displaying a picture of George W. Bush alongside.

slugThis Trick Allows Anyone To Hack (for propaganda) Google Search Results By Manipulating URL
Screenshot: Wietzebeukema

The blog post also explains that the Knowledge Graph card can also be moved to the area where you would normally see the search results by adding the &kponly operator to the URL.

Although Google has not yet taken action of the vulnerability, tech experts are concerned that this may lead to a distribution of fake information on the World Wide Web.

Additionally, the same links can be shared on different social media platforms as well as via email. The recipient of the links would not find anything wrong with the URL and find the search results to be accurate.
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The bug was reported to Google in December 2017 and even though the company is said to be working on the issue – the bug persists.

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