British users heading to Google to search for information about the 70th anniversary of D-Day on Friday were initially met with a surprising homepage. In place of the Google logo, there was a Doodle honoring Honinbo Shusaku, a professional player of the Japanese game Go, and no information about D-Day.
Google quickly took down the Doodle in the United Kingdom and replaced it with a link to D-Day memorial materials, and issued an apology for a technical error that caused many users frustration at what appeared to be a major oversight of honoring the Allied invasion of Nazi-held Europe during World War II. However, this isn’t the first time Google has ruffled Internet feathers with its choice of Doodles.
Originally this morning, the Doodle honoring Mr. Shusaku was live in the UK, Hong Kong, and Japan. However, Google took the image on the UK site down this morning after users complained of its insensitivity to this historic day.
"What were you thinking #Google?" asked one Twitter user in response to the Doodle.
However, Google took down the image after it was live for only a short while, and in response, Google's director of communication Peter Barron says, "We always intended to highlight a new exhibition of imagery and archive material commemorating D-Day on our homepage. Unfortunately a technical error crept in and for a short period this morning an international doodle also appeared. We're sorry for the mistake, and we're proud to honor those who took part in D-Day."
In its place, Google linked to a vast Cultural Institute collection of exhibits, original documents such as Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s D-Day prayer, and photographs depicting the day as it happens, all from sources such as the National Archives and Mémorial de Caen in France. That link is live in the UK, US, and France, whereas the Shusaku Doodle is still live in Hong Kong, Japan, and other countries.
However, some users were still upset that Google didn’t dedicate an entire Doodle to honor those who fought in D-Day.
"No lie, I was disappointed when @Google didn't have a D-Day doodle,” said one Twitter user. “But on some Prussian poet's 167th birthday they pull out all the stops.”
Google has never had a Doodle that celebrates D-Day specifically. Previously, it has honored the first drive-in movie as well as the anniversary of the invention of Tetris, which turned 30 on Friday. Google Doodles, which have been around since the early days of Google, have mostly honored people, inventions, and historical moments in technology, art, and innovation.
Christians also criticized Google in 2013 for debuting a Cesar Chavez Doodle on Easter, and Fox News has complained the site has yet to honor Flag Day.