Google has taken down a survey which showed people pictures of four young children and asked them to choose which one they liked best.
The survey, which was seen by Sky News, appeared on the website of a UK-based site which was trialling the Google Surveys service.
It told viewers to help the site generate revenue by selecting an image of one of four very young children, prompted with the question: “Which child do you like best?”
Google Surveys is a business product that the search giant uses to allow companies to conduct customised market research.
The surveys are completely designed by the companies through a self-service web portal, although they are required to meet Google’s content and editorial guidelines.
For publishers, it works as an alternative to paywalls for their websites, allowing users to get through for free after answering some questions.
Google killed the survey after being contacted by Sky News, and explained: “Google Surveys provide businesses with a simple platform for conducting consumer research to inform marketing decisions, such as testing which image would work best in a marketing campaign.
“While we don’t believe at this time that the survey was the result of any malicious behaviour, we quickly recognised that it was distasteful and the survey has been removed.”
The survey is understood to have been seen by fewer than 100 people before it was pulled from the system, and only a couple of dozen completed it.
Contacted by Sky News,a staff member at the site hosting the survey described it as “incredibly embarrassing”.
Sky News understands the survey was commissioned and designed by a business seeking to select a child to front a new marketing campaign. Businesses design their own questions using Google Surveys.
Researchers targeted it at a representative population sample taking into account age, gender and location in the UK. It was not targeted based on people’s web browsing history or matched content/keywords.