September 25, 2022

Did Google Identify Richard Grenell as President in March 2021?

On March 20, 2021, numerous users on Twitter shared screenshots of a Google “understanding panel” that determined previous acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell as the President of the United States:

Grenell, it bears pointing out, is not the president of the United States. While Google did, as a matter of truth, recognize Grenell as such, this was probably the outcome of misinformation intentionally contributed to his Wikipedia page by an adherent of the QAnon conspiracy theory.

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

The Google “Knowledge Panel,” the bit of information in a box to the right of some Google search results page, is an automatically produced block of information whose source of details is often Wikipedia. On March 20, 2021, a Wikipedia user with the name “QWasHere2021”– a most likely recommendation to Qanon– modified Grenells Wikipedia page to state that he was President of the United States:

Since this adjustment led to Google identifying Grenell as President of the United States did occur, the claim is “True.”.