Stand Together

January 20, 2016

Google PD ImageIf you have ever searched the term Parkinson’s Disease on Google, you may have noticed an illustration that appears on the right of the screen in an area that Google calls a “Knowledge Graph.” The illustration (shown to the left) presents a troubling characterization of Parkinson’s disease that is not representative of the wide age range of those living with Parkinson’s or the varying symptoms they experience. As a husband, care partner and member of the Parkinson’s community, I understand all too well the negative impact of the misperception that Parkinson’s is a disease that only affects the elderly. I have witnessed first hand the confusion, denial and secrecy that a person diagnosed with early onset Parkinson’s often experiences. I have seen the bewildered looks when my wife explains that she was diagnosed in her early thirties. I have heard the shock in people’s voices when they learn for the first time that Parkinson’s could suddenly and unexpectedly change someone’s life long before retirement age.

I know that this one image, viewed in isolation, may seem like a small thing. However, it presents serious concerns when you consider the far reaching impact of the Knowledge Graph. Not only does the image appear prominently in the first page of search results on the world’s foremost search engine, but the Knowledge Graph is intended as a summary of the most relevant information on a topic to limit the need for further inquiry. According to Google’s Keyword data, the term Parkinson’s Disease is searched an average of over 300,000 times per month. In other words, over 300,000 times per month this image is displayed as an example of a typical person living with Parkinson’s disease, when in fact there is nothing “typical” about this disease or the challenges it presents on a daily basis.

As a small step toward eliminating the confusion and misinformation surrounding Parkinson’s, I am asking fellow members of the Parkinson’s community to join me in providing feedback to encourage Google to remove the illustration. Based on my research, the most effective way to deliver a request to remove or change the image is through a feedback link that appears in the Knowledge Graph. If you are not familiar with the Knowledge Graph, I have included a short tutorial on the process for submitting feedback to Google below. I have also included a copy of the feedback message that I sent to Google (at the end of this post), in case it helps with drafting your own message.

Thank you in advance for joining me in taking this positive step toward changing the public perception of Parkinson’s disease. If we all stand together, as one community, we can make a difference.

Procedure for Submitting Feedback:

When you enter the search term “Parkinson’s Disease,” the Knowledge Graph will appear to the right of the screen.

Google PD Image 1

If you click on the arrow to expand the graph (circled above), you will see additional information including the link to submit feedback.

Google PD Image 2

Once you click on the feedback link, a message appears instructing you to select the area of the Knowledge Graph that contains the error.

Google PD Image 3

If you click on the illustration, a pop-up message box appears where you can enter feedback. From this point, all you need to do is enter your message and click the Send button.

Google PD Image 4


The Feedback I Submitted to Google:

The illustration in the Parkinson’s disease Knowledge Graph of an elderly woman with stooped posture and shaky hands is not representative of the wide range of ages of those affected by Parkinson’s or the varying symptoms they experience. Unfortunately, this image perpetuates the misconception that Parkinson’s is a disease that only impacts the elderly – in contradiction to the bar graph of “Ages Affected” that appears in the expanded view of the Knowledge Graph. That misconception contributes to the prolonged denial and secrecy often experienced by those diagnosed with Parkinson’s earlier in life. It also has an adverse impact on the efforts to raise the funding needed to support the research for a cure. As the husband to a courageous woman who has battled this disease since the age of 32, I respectfully request that you remove the illustration and assist the Parkinson’s community in putting an end to this harmful misperception. Thank you for your time and consideration. 


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