Google is blaming Wikipedia for search results that said the ideology of the California Republican Party included "Nazism." Results were seen in a Google information box screen-captured by Vice News on Thursday.
The story was quickly seized on by Republicans.
Congressman Kevin McCarthy, the majority Republican leader whose district is in central California, tweeted that the results were a "disgrace." California Republican Party executive director Cynthia Bryant said in a statement that Google and Wikipedia should take more ownership of what is published on their sites.
Google quickly adjusted the information box to remove the section on ideology, calling the change "vandalism."
A search of change records show the term "Nazism" was added to the Wikipedia entry twice in the last week before being taken down by other editors.
Websites are exempt from charges of libel under federal law as long as they promptly remove offensive material once notified.
"We have systems in place that catch vandalism before it impacts search results, but occasionally errors get through, and that's what happened here," Google said in a Thursday statement. "This would have been fixed systematically once we processed the removal from Wikipedia, but when we noticed the vandalism we worked quickly to accelerate this process to remove the erroneous information."
The latest gaffe comes two months after YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki told an audience at the SXSW technology conference that YouTube would begin to rely on Wikipedia entries to create a "companion unit" that will be shown beside conspiracy theory videos that continue to populate the platform.
Wojcicki told Wired editor Nicholas Thompson at the time that the unit was meant to show alternative sources of information so a viewer would "be able to research other areas as well."