#ArnabArrest Why is Sonia Gandhi called Antonia Maino or Italian Bar Dancer


Google Search shows “Italian Bar Dancer”, “Bar Girl In India” results when you search for Sonia Gandhi

Yesterday, the famed news anchor of Republic, Arnab Goswami was grilled for 12 hours by the Mumbai Police for calling Sonia Gandhi as Antonia Maino during a debate. Arnab had during a recent debate on the Palghar Sadhu killings called out Sonia Gandhi by her maiden name Antonia Maino for refusing to comment on the gruesome murders. His reasoning was the Sonia Gandhi makes statements of crying for Batla House encounter and Ishrat Jahan but has no words for the lynchings of the Sadhus.

Immediately after Arnab called Sonia Gandhi as Antonia Maino, Congress workers started posting threats against Arnab on social media. Few goons even tried to attack Arnab. A record number of FIRs (Police complaints) were filed against Mr.Goswami. The Police took him in for questioning which is normal but abnormal was the 12-hour grilling he was subjected to for calling somebody by their maiden name. Immediately after the fiasco, a number of trends like #BarDancer, #SoniaGoonsAttackArnab, and #AntoniaMaino #मैं_अर्णब_के_साथ_हूँ started trending on Twitter.

In this article, we look at why the Congressmen are upset and what is the technical aspect of Google’s search results for Sonia Gandhi.

Searching #ItalianBarDancer – Italian Bar Dancer

You will be surprised to know that if you search for Italian Bar Dancer, Google showcases Sonia Gandhi as the top of the search result in the Rich Snippets.

What are Rich Snippets :

Google displays a short selection of text containing the latest news about the searched entity. Rich Snippets appear at the top of Google’s search results and are designed to provide the Google searcher with a one-stop reply to his/her query. Such snippets include additional details about results, such as displaying reviews for restaurants and social media accounts for individuals.

The Rich Snippets pulls content from the top keywords and top search results on Google using complex algorithms. So the content that appears inside of a Rich Snippet is basically pulled from web pages in Google’s index and Google has no part in deciding what the Rich Snippet shows. But mind you, Rich Snippets just show the top searched terms and are not always accurate.

The search term Italian Bar Dancer also gives photographs of Sonia Gandhi collated by Google and shown as a pack and called the Google Featured Images.

Searching #ItalianBarDancer - Italian Bar Dancer

What is Google Featured Images

When you search a query, Google displays the top searched images of the query in an array of horizontal rows. This helps the Google Search user to immediately get the top image of his query. He/she can get more images of the subject in the Google Image Search by clicking on the link.

Searching #BarGirlInIndia – Bar Girl In India

If you search the term Bar Girl In India on Google, you will get the same results as searching for an Italian Bar Dancer would. The Google Featured Images lists images of Sonia Gandhi’ while searching for Bar Girl In India. No this is a bit difficult to understand as Sonia Gandhi is not Indian by birth.

Searching who is bar dancer in India also gives similar results.

Google removes Sonia Gandhi Knowledge Graph

Earlier when you searched for Italian Bar Dancer, Bar Girl In India, or Who Is Bar Dancer In India, Google would show a Wikipedia Page of Sonia Gandhi as a part of its Knowledge Graph feature. The Knowledge Graph is a knowledge base used by Google and presented in the search results in a box to the right of search results. Here is how it appeared if you searched for the above terms.

Google removes Sonia Gandhi Knowledge Graph

After the news appeared in media, Google seems to have taken remedial action and removed both Rich Snippets and the Knowledge Graph if you search for the terms Italian Bar Dancer, Bar Girl In India, or Who Is Bar Dancer In India. Some Google search users have reported seeing both the Rich Snippet and the Knowledge Graph of Sonia Gandhi if they search for the above terms.

Now lets come to the moot question of why Google search is showing results of Sonia Gandhi when you search Italian Bar Dancer, Bar Girl In India, or Who Is Bar Dancer In India.

Who is Sonia Gandhi?

Sonia Gandhi was born as Edvige Antonia Albina Maino and is the widow late prime minister of India, Rajiv Gandhi. She joined politics after the death of her husband and is the chairperson of the grand old party of India, – Indian National Congress. The Indian National Congress has governed India for 70 years and for 10 years during the reign of Sonia Gandhi as the party president.

Sonia Gandhi married Rajiv Gandhi in 1968 and has two children, Rahul Gandhi, and Priyanka Vadera Gandhi. Sonia Gandhi met her late husband Rajiv Gandhi at the Varsity Rooftop Bar in Cambridge where she was working as a Bar Attendant. Rajiv was doing engineering at Trinity College at the University of Cambridge.

Was Sonia Gandhi A Bar Dancer?

Sonia Gandhi was not a Bar Dancer contrary to beliefs. She was a Bar Attendant at Varsity Rooftop Bar. Bar Attendants are people who help manage the bar like taking orders, waiting on tables, mixing drinks, etc. Rajiv used to frequent the bar and they fell in love and got married. After the death of Prime Minister, late Indira Gandhi, Rajiv joined Indian politics and thus the rumor Sonia Gandhi being a bar girl was born. It was used by her opponents when she became the president of Congress Party in 2004.

The images that do appear of Sonia Gandhi as a bar dancer are either morphed or photoshopped. Here are a few examples of such photographs doing rounds on social media.

Sonia Gandhi

This is a morphed photo of Sonia Gandhi. The original image featured the flamboyant Marlyn Monroe in the 1955 film The Seven Year Itch. Images such as these are shared on Facebook, Twitter, and WhatsApp claiming to be old photos of Sonia Gandhi. But in reality, there are no photographs of Sonia Gandhi from the days she worked as a Bar Attendant.

Was Arnab Goswami right in calling Sonia Gandhi’s real name Antonia Maino?

Yes, Sonia Gandhi’s real birth name is Edvige Antonia Albina Maino. Arnab did no mistake there. She was born on 9 December 1946 (age 73 years), at Lusiana, Lusiana Conco, Italy. Calling by maiden names has been a mainstay of Indian politics. Congressmen refer to Yogi Adityanath by his pre-Sanyas name of Ajay Bisht.

Why does Google show Sonia Gandhi when you search for Italian Bar Dancer or Indian Bar Girl

Google doesn’t have its own preferences. Google search algorithm shows what the users feed it. For example, if 10,000 Indians today search for the term India Superpower and click on the image/text which showcases the Indian army, that image and the text will make it to the feature images in all searches of India.

This also happened in the United States when you searched Idiot. Google search threw up images of President Donald Trump. There was a great controversy generated when this news got published. The US government constituted the US House Judiciary Committee and called Google CEO Sundar Pichai.

Sundar Pichai told the Committee that Google has no hands in what is being displayed in the search.

“Any time you type in a keyword, as Google we have gone out and crawled and stored copies of billions of [websites’] pages in our index. And we take the keyword and match it against their pages and rank them based on over 200 signals — things like relevance, freshness, popularity, how other people are using it. And based on that, at any given time, we try to rank and find the best search results for that query.”

Basically it’s the Google algorithms that make up what is served in the search results.



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"The Internet is the first thing that humanity has built that humanity doesn't understand, the largest experiment in anarchy that we have ever had." Eric Schmidt

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