Google is being called out for promoting websites that claim the Holocaust never happened, and the criticism is turning into a PR nightmare. But Google now says that the company is thinking deeply about ways to improve searches on the topic. But all of this brings up the bigger question about content on the web and if it skews toward those who deny that the Holocaust happened at all.
It seems that hate groups, such as the KKK and other white supremacists, are in the news more now than in recent history. Following the election, questions came up about whether businesses could deny service to groups that promote hate, reports the Inquisitr. Maggiano’s, a chain restaurant serving homestyle Italian food, found themselves in such a position when a white power group made a reservation under a false name, and the restaurant was soon surrounded by protestors after attendees tweeted a photo giving a Nazi salute.
The need to publicly state where you fall in the hate debate is becoming critical, and now people want to know what Google is going to do about Holocaust deniers getting good indexing placement.
The Guardian How to bump Holocaust deniers off Google's top spot? Pay Google The Guardian The Holocaust did not… https://t.co/GlEhI2DD78— Sacha (@SachaIDK) December 23, 2016
The Guardian broke the story that Google is not just providing the world with search results, but rather shaping and sometimes distorting what people believe. When a person types in the phrase “did the Holocaust happen” — or even “did the hol” and then Google will help with the rest, and fill in “did the Holocaust happen” — most people believe the results will explain what happened to 6 million Jews. Instead, school children working on reports or studying history got exposed to a whole lot of Holocaust denial by some curious sources.
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Although Google says it is now working on this, one of the top results is still by a group called Stormfront, which gives 10 reasons proving the Holocaust did not happen and that it’s just one more Jewish conspiracy. It is essentially just a discussion forum, but it is given prominence, including a tagline, “Spreading white pride worldwide.”
Danny Sullivan, the editor of Search Engine Land, says that something has gone very, very wrong with the Google algorithm. That Stormfront is a primary result is questionable, as it claims to be the “voice of the white minority.”
Although Google says it has updated their algorithm, Stormfront still has a place of prominence. And questions are being asked about what is wrong with Google that it took an uproar to have the company examine this. For school children, the internet is to go-to place for information. Even if one uses every parent filter in the world, you can’t filter out the minority message, but should Google be doing it too?
Fortune states that in addition to the Holocaust denial, there are some curious racist terms popping up in search windows like “evil Jews” and “Are Jews evil?” A company spokesperson put out a statement this week addressing the issue.
“Judging which pages on the web best answer a query is a challenging problem and we don’t always get it right. We recently made improvements to our algorithm that will help surface more high quality, credible content on the web. We’ll continue to change our algorithms over time in order to tackle these challenges.”
Autocomplete seemed to have a racist mind of its own, and Google reps say it is also being addressed. Google has not indicated how long it will take to address these issues, but they say that it is a priority.
But the Breman Museum, a Holocaust museum in Atlanta, Georgia, believes that Google is profiting on the subject of Holocaust denial, says the Guardian. David Schendowich, the museum’s marketing director, says that Google is making money through Adwords when people click through these hate sites. Those promoting the history of the Holocaust then pay more money to debunk the deniers results.
“They may not take money from people denying the Holocaust, but the point is that museums and other organizations are paying to combat this stuff. They plainly are. We are. We’re paying them up to $2 a click.”
Non-profit organizations said that it is costing them a lot of money to combat hate, but it is part of their mission to not let the deniers win. However, Google claims it has no interest in profiting from this battle.
“We have no interest in profiting from sites or organizations that promote hate, which is why we ban them from using our ads systems. Under some circumstances we allow advertising against offensive terms, typically by organizations whose mission involves educating people about the issues. Those organizations can and do apply for Ad Grants – free advertising to drive awareness and promote educational messages. We give hundreds of millions of dollars worth of free advertising to non-profit organizations through our Ad Grants program.”
Breman Museum says Google profiting from Holocaust denial https://t.co/2hA12qyGrj— AtlBizChron (@AtlBizChron) December 23, 2016
Who do you believe in this conflict? Do you think that Google has a responsibility to provide factual results to queries on the Holocaust?
[Featured Image by Ian Waldie/Getty Images]