Google Says It Will Take 'Some Time' to Fix 'America' Search Results

2:21 PM PST 07/08/2014 by Paul Bond

"Our systems have unfortunately confused the title of the movie 'America,' because it's a common term and appears in many movie titles," the giant Internet firm says of Dinesh D'Souza's film.

Google on Tuesday responded to accusations that it has been dragging its heels for a week while failing to fix a search problem that has made it difficult for users to locate theaters playing America, the new movie from conservative author Dinesh D'Souza.

"Our systems have unfortunately confused the title of the movie America because it's a common term and appears in many movie titles," a Google spokesperson told The Hollywood Reporter on Tuesday. "We've updated the Knowledge Graph, our database that stores this type of information, but it will take some time to display showtimes and other details for this movie. We're always working on improving our systems, and we appreciate the feedback."

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D'Souza and his team have been asking Google for several days to fix a problem that confused America, in theaters now, with 2016: Obama's America, another D'Souza movie that hasn't been in theaters since 2012.

On Monday, a representative from America sent a letter to Google chief legal counsel David Drummond insisting that the problem be fixed, demanding to know if human error was involved and asking for "statistics on searches from the time the misdirection began until resolved so that we might ascertain the number of users who could not find the film as a result of this mix-up."

While Google resolved some of the issue on Tuesday, theater locations, screening times and other details remained a problem.

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"This is merely a reiteration of what we heard nearly a week ago, and yet the problem has persisted and potential moviegoers are still confused," D'Souza told THR. "The American people need to know if Google is going to be a trustworthy source of news and information that doesn't tilt in one political direction or another."

Simultaneously to the Google controversy, Costco has been under fire for issuing an edict that all of its stores stop selling D'Souza's latest book, America: Imagine a World Without Her, which is the source material for the movie.

Costco reportedly says its decision is based on lackluster sales, not politics, though critics point out that the book is poised to appear July 13 on the New York Times best sellers list. On Tuesday, the book was No. 3 at Amazon.com. Costco did not respond to a request for comment.

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Critics have also been noting that Google and Costco lean heavily to the left in their politics. Sixty-six percent of Google's donations in the most recent presidential election cycle, for example, went to Democrats while 26 percent went to Republicans, according to OpenSecrets.org.

"Costco is free to ban my book, but their customers are also free to shop at other stores which don't censor books," D'Souza told THR. "It's one thing for Costco executives to pal around with President Barack Obama and donate almost exclusively to Democrats, but to turn their company into a tool for suppressing dissent against the government is another matter."

On Tuesday, Rush Limbaugh also spent time bashing Costco and promoting D'Souza's book and movie.

"I'm sure their phones are ringing off the hook, as it should be," Limbaugh said. "If I were D'Souza, I'd say, 'Good, I wouldn't want my book sold in your establishment in the first place.' Just go out and buy it someplace else, and then go see the movie. That's the way to get back at these people."

A "Stand With Dinesh" Facebook page also sprang up on Tuesday, declaring: "On July 12 & 19th, stand up to Costco's bullying and return your membership!" The page is unaffiliated with  D'Souza, the movie or the book.

Email: Paul.Bond@THR.com

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