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Google treated me like a celebrity for a day—and then realized it made a mistake

Google treated me like a celebrity for a day—and then realized it made a mistake
[Photo: Clem Onojeghuo/Unsplash]

For one glorious day, I had it all. I was part of the in-crowd—an exclusive group of celebrities and public figures that includes Kevin Durant, Gordon Ramsay, and Olivia Culpo.

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I had access to Cameos on Google!

Let me explain: On Tuesday, I received an email from “Charles,” a product manager from Google offering me access to Cameos on Google, an invitation-only service that allows individuals with a certain level of notoriety to record video answers to questions that people want to know about them. Those self-recorded videos then appear in Google search results. It sounds a little odd, but celebrities actually do this. Here’s Gordon Ramsay’s self-recorded video, if you’re curious.

The invitation to this top-flight service was exciting, but also suspicious because I don’t have any “fans,” as the email suggested, and anyone who has a question about me can just send me an email or ping me on Slack. As it turns out, the email actually did come from Google, but alas, my elite status was too good to last. The following day, Google rescinded the invitation, explaining that it had been sent in error:

“Uh oh! We mistakenly emailed you to try Cameos on Google, a Search feature we’re piloting that unfortunately isn’t yet ready for everyone. We apologize for the confusion, and we’ll let you know when we make those features available.”

And just like that I found myself back among the commoners, my brief brush with fame only a memory. I am a mere mortal again.

So what’s going on? First off, Google recently brought its Cameos feature to Android, and it’s been slowly granting access to more and more people—just not everyone. The mistaken email appears to have been sent to people who have “knowledge panels,” those windows of information that pop up in Google’s search results when people search certain names and businesses. If you have a knowledge panel tied to your identity or business, you can contact Google to try to claim it, and I suspect many people do this to fix inaccurate information that sometimes gets tangled up in the panels.

It looks like the mistaken invitations were sent to everyday non-celebrities with knowledge panels. It’s unclear how many of these invites were sent, but it does appear that Google is planning to roll out Cameos to more and more non-celebrity users at some point. I reached out to the company for more information and will update if I hear back.

In the meantime, it’s back to mediocrity for me.

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