Google has taken measures to remove Holocaust denying from its search results. This is part of an overall campaign by companies like it and Facebook to fight against the proliferation of fake news stories.
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A new algorithm will filter out websites with Holocaust denying propaganda from Google’s organic searches. The world’s biggest search engine took this step after complaints were made over how a white supremacist website came up first under searches for “Did the Holocaust happen?”
It is not realistic to expect all racist and anti-Semitic web sites be removed entirely from the Internet. There are freedom of speech issues involved here. And Google is just a search engine after all. Its job is to provide its users with the most relevant websites related to their searches. And it does so based on the search phrases used and the location of the person making the search.
Mathematical equations known as algorithms are what Google uses to search the web not only for the names of websites, but to also check their content to see if they have information that a searcher may be looking for.
So, for example, if you are in Cleveland and search “plumbers, ” Google will list plumbers in your area. But if you search for something more specific like “learn plumbing” or “how do I fix a clog, ” then Google will provide you with a list of websites which have the pertinent information.
And so, if a user is researching racism and wishes to get information about Holocaust deniers, or nazis, or racists in general, then this person wants Google to provide him with a list of websites belonging to hate groups.
But if someone searches for “Judaism” or “Israel” they should not see links to websites for Hamas or the KKK. This is where Google’s algorithms are supposed to filter searches to provide only relevant content. But no system is perfect and this is why Google is constantly forced to update its systems.
“We recently made improvements to our algorithm that will help surface more high quality, credible content on the web, ” a Google spokesperson said. “We’ll continue to change our algorithms over time in order to tackle these challenges.”
“Google was built on providing people with high-quality and authoritative results for their search queries, ” a Google spokesperson told Digital Trends. “We strive to give users a breadth of diverse content from variety of sources and we’re committed to the principle of a free and open web. Judging which pages on the web best answer a query is a challenging problem and we don’t always get it right.”
Companies like Google and Facebook have shown that they are responsive to the complaints of their users and do work to remove hate speech. For example, Facebook will remove the accounts belonging to people who engage in inappropriate behavior on its platform and Google will not allow racist websites to take part in its Ad Words and Ad Sense advertising campaigns.
This being said, companies like Google still have a lot of work to do when it comes to preventing the proliferation of Holocaust denying materials when people wish to learn about the truth of what happened.