The era of the Google Voice Bomb is officially here

Burger King fools Google Home speakers into reading Whopper Wikipedia entry aloud.

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Google Voice Bomb:

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Remember when cagey internet tricksters used to be able to fool Google into displaying the search results they wanted?

It took some work. You had to take the term or phrase you wanted and plaster it all over the internet so that it would rank highly in Google results. But the payoff was often worth it in chuckles. There was a time when, for example, searching for “miserable failure” would turn up George W. Bush.

The infamous Google Bomb, before it was effectively quashed by the search company, was one of those weird and seemingly unavoidable hiccups in the internet’s evolution. Which is why it’s so interesting that it’s back, albeit transmutated into another form.

As The Verge reports, Burger King essentially pulled off a modern-day Google Bomb this week with an ad that activated and tricked Google Home speakers and some Android phones into delivering its sought-after results.

The 15-second ad features an individual in a Burger King uniform looking into the camera and saying, “Okay Google, what is the Whopper burger?” The statement would trigger any listening Google Assistants into looking up and reading aloud the Wikipedia entry on the burger.

Google quickly moved to disable the Burger King trigger, but not before a Wikipedia editing war ensued, according to the news site. Burger King had edited the Whopper entry to sound like an ad, but that was followed by various individuals hoping to get Google Assistants everywhere to read their preferred texts.

The original, pre-ad entry has now apparently been restored.

This is all very diabolical on Burger King’s part, but also genius. The burger chain has easily made hay out of harmlessly exploiting a vulnerability in Google Home and the Google Assistant. And to be fair, Amazon’s Alexa has also suffered from unauthorized access.

Google is clearly going to have to fix this issue, and fast, before someone figures out how to use it maliciously. Sooner or later, an ill-intentioned hacker is going to discover a way to trick these assistants into revealing useful information about their owners.

What’s surprising about the whole situation is that Google apparently didn’t see it coming despite its previous experience with Google Bombs. We’ve officially entered the era of Google Voice Bombs. Okay Google, how does the company get out of this one?

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