Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Google Sued Over 'Jewish' Search Suggestions

Several French anti-discrimination organizations are suing Google for allegedly promulgating "unsolicited and systematic associations between famous people and their Jewishness" through Google's auto-complete function, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
SOS Racisme has a hearing scheduled Wednesday for a lawsuit in which the association and a handful of other French anti-racism organizations allege the search giant is "overseeing the creation of what is probably the biggest Jewish file in history" with auto-complete search suggestions that associate famous figures, such as News Corporation chairman Rupert Murdoch, with the words "Jew" and "Jewish."
When users type Murdoch's name into Google.com, the suggested search results that drop down include "rupert murdoch jewish."
"Numerous users of the first search engine of France and the world are confronted daily with the association, unsolicited and almost systematically, [of] the word 'Jew' with the names of those most prominent in the world of politics, media or business," SOS Racisme and other organizations state in their lawsuit, according to a translation of an article about the case published by the French-language La Côte newspaper.
By merely suggesting the word "Jew" in auto-complete lists (like the one for Murdoch above), Google is allegedly violating a French constitutional law against compiling files on people that refer to their ethnicity, the suit claims.
In its FAQ for auto-complete, Google explains that suggestions made by the feature "are a reflection of the search activity of all Web users and the contents of Web pages indexed by Google."
Those results "may include silly or strange or surprising terms and phrases," the company notes, adding, "[w]hile we always strive to algorithmically reflect the diversity of content on the Web (some good, some objectionable), we also apply a narrow set of removal policies for pornography, violence, hate speech, and terms that are frequently used to find content that infringes copyrights."
Google further states in the FAQ that "Queries in auto-complete are algorithmically determined based on a number of factors (including search term popularity) without manual intervention."


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