It looks likes the HBO show “Silicon Valley” has mounted a friendly takeover of Google.
People who searched “Silicon Valley” during the Season 3 premiere Sunday were treated to some fake news articles tied to plot points in the show.
“Stanford Robotics Reports ‘Bam-Bot’ Damaged in Field Testing,” read one headline, alluding to a moment in the premiere when characters Erlich and Richard hit a robot deer with a car. The fake stories were still among the first page of Google results as of Wednesday.
HBO created satire stories and published them though a tool Google launched in January, which allows certain verified organizations to post text, images and videos directly on Google. The items appear in a carousel with a badge indicating the source comes from a third party. Groups as varied as small businesses, musicians, cricket players, political candidates and other TV shows have used the tool since it launched.
No money is exchanged to take part in the program, and Google isn’t an official partner with any of the groups publishing through it, including HBO. A Google spokesperson said the company is continuing to experiment with the look and feel of the feature, including exploring other ways it can be used.
But Google’s leadership are known to be megafans of “Silicon Valley.” Co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin wear T-shirts for Pied Piper and Hooli, the fictional main companies featured in the program. And when Google restructured as a holding company called Alphabet in August, the blog post announcing the change included a hidden link to Hooli’s website.