February 19, 2007

"Language Log" post examines old Google "Jew" Search Controversy

A writer at Language Log, a group linguistics site, just wrote a post motivated by the "Jew" search. This is the controversy well-known in search circles where the anti-Semitic site "Jew Watch" used to come up as the first result in a Google search for the word "Jew"

The post's an interesting window into what someone thinks when seeing the disclaimer Google displays for that search, yet not knowing at first the history of the controversy. He ask the obvious question about why Google displays a disclaimer for that term, but not for, say, hash slurs and racial epithets ("Meanwhile, other words that have uses as offensive epithets, or are used ONLY as offensive epithets, get no warning from Google.")

The answer to that is the disclaimer was prompted by bad publicity in the specific case, not linguistic offensiveness.

There's one small error in the post - the statement "And Google HAS meddled with the search results to some extent; the site's self-description" is noticing that the results display an Open Directory description rather than the site's own description. But it's not a change which was done to tone down the results for that site.

By Seth Finkelstein | posted in google | on February 19, 2007 11:59 PM (Infothought permalink)
Seth Finkelstein's Infothought blog (Wikipedia, Google, censorware, and an inside view of net-politics) - Syndicate site (subscribe, RSS)

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