Google’s highlighted answers have gotten the company into murky waters a handful of times in the past, and now it seems to be suggesting the best torrenting sites to anyone who asks. (Editor’s Note: Google has now removed these suggested torrenting sites and illegal streaming sites as of July 25th. Google released a statement: "We have investigated this particular issue and determined that this results carousel wasn't working in the intended manner, and we have now fixed the issue.")
As first reported by Torrent Freak, Googling “torrent sites” or “best torrent sites” will feature results like The Pirate Bay, Rarbg, and 1337x, just as casually it gives you suggestions for “best news sites” or the cast of a particular movie. Clicking on one of the answers shows related search results for the particular website.
Similarly, a search for “streaming sites” will list Netflix and Hulu along with the likes of pirating sites like Putlocker and Alluc, which is helpful for people looking to save on streaming subscriptions but not so much for copyright holders of these shows.
When reached for comment, Google said the results weren’t exactly what the company intended to highlight in this particular manner. "These results are generated algorithmically, but in this particular case, do not reflect what we had in mind for this feature, and we are looking into it."
Update July 11th, 9:15 AM ET: This article has been updated to add a statement from Google.
Update July 25th, 1:00 PM ET: This article has been updated with Google’s statement, reflecting that it has removed torrent and illegal streaming search results from highlighted answers.