A lot of news came out yesterday evening around an old Google knowledge panel exploit that let’s you manipulate almost any query to show any knowledge panel. Yes, this is embarrassing for Google but even more so because it is something that was reported back in 2016.
Yes, Aaron Bradley, an SEO, wrote about this issue on Google+ back on March 31, 2016, over 2 and half years ago! But now, only now, is it getting attention. It is not like major sites didn’t cover this exploit, they did. Google just did not think it was a big deal and didn’t fix it.
Google still hasn’t fixed it – even after last night’s news. I am sure they will fix it soon but almost 3 years to fix this is kind of insane.
Look what I can do with it. I can trick Google to thinking I am both the [shortest man alive]:
And that I am also the [tallest man alive]:
You can just imagine what people can do to trick unsuspecting searchers into believing anything. Just share a long Google (or short one) URL with them, to prove you are who you say you are, your company does what you say it does, etc and bam – Google backs it up with a knowledge panel.
How does it work? Go to any knowledge panel, click on the share icon at the top.
Copy the URL and paste it into your browser. Then look at the URL the &q= part, right after that is the original query you used to trigger this. Change the query like I did to anything you want. For an added bonus, do it on mobile and the knowledge panel will be the only thing you can screen shot above the fold.
Forum discussion at WebmasterWorld.