Pashmina shawls are incredible garments and are growing in popularity, but can it be that Google is unintentionally harming the Pashmina legacy and industry?!
When you Google the query: ‘Why are Pashmina shawls banned?’ (By the way, they’re not!) The ‘Featured Snippet’ answer is one of these 2, depending on your location:
1. “Unfortunately, due to commercial poaching of the animal, their population declined dramatically. CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna & Flora) included the Tibetan Antelope in 1979, leading to prohibition in the sale and trade of Shahtoosh shawls and scarves.” taken from The Hindu Magazine.
2. “Their fleece growing on the Tibetan Antelope is obtained by trapping it forcefully, killing it, and skinning the hair from its underbelly. Animal cruelty is the basic reason besides the decreasing number of Chiru goats, why Shahtoosh was banned. Taken from Pashmina.com
Google is not saying that Pashmina shawls are banned, but it mistakenly provides an answer about the banned shahtoosh shawl whose production involves the killing of an endangered Chiru. Only at the end of the answer does it mention the name Shahtoosh Shawl, which is much less known than Pashmina.
The bottom line is that 99 out of 100 people who search this query are very likely to get the wrong impression.
If the people who came across these featured snippets had plans to buy pashmina, they’re very likely to change their minds, not to mention that with social media, this sort of “fake news” even has the danger of spreading.
Can Google be Wrong?!
Google is everyone’s doctor, the quickest answer source for all our problems. But can Google’s featured snippets give wrong or even misleading information?
In this case, not only does Google provide the wrong answer, but it is also harming both Pashminas’ reputation and industry by giving the wrong idea to over a 1,000 people worldwide who search this query each month!
Why Doesn’t Google Provide The Right Answer?
First of all, Google is a software, a robot. Even though it’s a brilliant one, it is far from perfect.
My guess is that since many people are searching for this query every month, Google assumes it’s true, and it tries to find a short paragraph in the text that corresponds with that. It searches for information about a banned shawl and provides the closest answer as true.
What Does The Future Hold?
Unfortunately, with the rise of AI, I believe that we shall see plenty more of these types of mistakes in the near future. But I hope that as tech evolves, the information will be more accurate.
For now, let’s hope Google will understand its mistake ASAP and continue its contribution to the Pashmina industry’s rightful growth.