Fact Check

Did Google Identify Richard Grenell as President in March 2021?

An edit to Grenell's Wikipedia page by a user named "QWasHere2021" appears to be the culprit.

Published Mar 21, 2021

 (Armend Nimani / Getty Images)
Image Via Armend Nimani / Getty Images
Claim:
A Google knowledge panel identified former acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell as the President of the United States in March 2021.

On March 20, 2021, several users on Twitter shared screenshots of a Google "knowledge panel" that identified former acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell as the President of the United States:

Grenell himself tweeted about the mistake, listing a series of "executive orders" he would sign as POTUS.

Grenell, it bears mentioning, is not the president of the United States. While Google did, as a matter of fact, identify Grenell as such, this was almost certainly the result of misinformation intentionally added to his Wikipedia page by an adherent of the QAnon conspiracy theory.

The Google "Knowledge Panel," the snippet of information in a box to the right of some Google search results, is an automatically generated block of data whose source of information is often Wikipedia. On March 20, 2021, a Wikipedia user with the name "QWasHere2021" — a likely reference to Qanon — edited Grenell's Wikipedia page to state that he was President of the United States:

Because this manipulation resulted in Google identifying Grenell as President of the United States did occur, the claim is "True."

Alex Kasprak is an investigative journalist and science writer reporting on scientific misinformation, online fraud, and financial crime.

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