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Google Modifies Autocomplete Function After it is Found to Offer Wildly Anti-Semitic Suggestions (UPDATE)

October 23, 2013 9:35 am 20 comments

A screenshot of Google's autocomplete results after typing in the phrase "Jews should."

Try typing “Jews should” into the Google search bar, and the tech giant’s autocomplete function will  present you with an array of wildly anti-Semitic options, The Algemeiner has learned.

“Jews should be wiped out,”  and “Jews should get over the Holocaust” are among the offensive popular searches listed, along with “Jews should all die,” and “Jews should apologize for killing Jesus.”

E-commerce executive, civil rights activist, and Algemeiner blogger Eli Federman alerted The Algemeiner to the troubling discovery. He said he was prompted to experiment with the search after reading a Mashable article about a UN Women advertising campaign that features screenshots of sexist Google autocomplete suggestions prompted by the search “women should.”

“I was deeply disturbed,” Federman said of the discovery. “What surprised me most was the theological anti-Semitic result where the search ‘Jews should…’ auto-populated ‘Jews should be perfected,’ echoing old notions that Jews can only be complete by accepting Jesus and rejecting traditional Judaism.”

Jewish rights groups expressed concern, although not surprise, about the findings. Rabbi Abraham Cooper, Associate Dean at the Simon Wiesenthal Center, told The Algemeiner that he hoped the discovery would “wake up everyone in our community to understand how much effort bigots and racists put into the internet.”

He called for Google to figure out a solution to the problem, saying that the company has a “responsibility” to “take a look at their system or remove the entire (autocomplete) service from the users.”

It is a reminder, Cooper said that “there are responsibilities that come along with all the bells and whistles and the profits.”

Deborah Lauter, a Civil Rights Director at the Anti-Defamation League, pointed out that the issue is not confined to Google, or for that matter to Jews and Women. Other search engines including Yahoo and Bing produce similar results, and entering searches for gays or blacks can also elicit hateful autocomplete suggestions, she said.

“The issue of hate on the internet is global and is growing and is a big concern” Lauter told The Algemeiner.

“We will certainly flag it for them and we hope that they will be responsive” she said, adding, “Our hope is that the community, and anyone that sees these results will similarly flag it because the companies want to see communities engaged in the fight.”

“They are as overwhelmed by this as we are,” Lauter concluded, “and they are looking for thoughtful solutions.”

On its website, Google claims that it has no oversight over the autocomplete results, and explains that the “Autocomplete predictions are algorithmically determined based on a number of factors (including popularity of search terms) without any human intervention.”

“It is, in many ways, a neutral reflection of society,” Chis Taylor of Mashable writes.

But Google also claims that it does step in to moderate the autocomplete results in certain cases. “While we always strive to 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,” the company writes on its support pages.

“Google may be violating its own policies by not excluding these flagrantly anti-Semitic search queries,” Federman said, citing the company’s stipulation. He would not, however, like to see the autocomplete results censored. “The best answer to false speech and hate speech is not censorship, it is truthfulness. Exposing the truth that anti-Semitism and sexism are alive and well is a good thing,” he opined.

Last year, Google faced legal action in France over its autocomplete function. The company was sued by six anti-defamation groups “who argued that Google was unintentionally breaking the law with its suggested search results that offered ‘unsolicited and almost systematic association’ of the word ‘Jew’ with well-known politicians, media personalities and business people,” PC Mag reported.

Ultimately the groups reached a deal under mediation, with Google, but at the time both parties declined to comment on the specifics of the arrangement.

Google did not immediately respond to The Algemeiner’s request for comment.

A screenshot of Google's autocomplete results after typing in the phrase "Jews should."

UPDATE: Hours after the publication of this article, The Algemeiner was informed that Google had modified its autocomplete function to exclude the most offensive anti-Semitic suggestions.

All the suggestions that refer to killing Jews appear to have been removed, as has the “Jews should be perfected” suggestion.

The Anti-Defamation League told The Algemeiner that they were told by Google late Tuesday that the company was “looking into the complaint.” By Wednesday afternoon the changes had been made.

“We were pleased that they had removed some of the most offensive auto-correct results,” said the ADL’s Deborah Lauter.

Praising the company Lauter said that “Google is very responsive.”

“It takes the problem of hate on the internet seriously, and they are looking for ways to address it,” she said.

Screenshot showing the autocomplete results for a "Jews should" search after Google's amendments.

20 Comments

  • While the autocomplete suggestions are offensive, they are useful in informing us of what kind of hatefulness and bigotry is out in the world, lest we become complacent and think such things no longer exist.

  • Let me see if I have this correct. You Jews are in an uproar over this but you teach your children from infancy to hate and distrust everyone else in the world (I’ve read critically of the Talmud’s pertinent sections, don’t try to lie your way out of this one). Then you expect people to “like” you given your world view and interactions with others? This article confirms 2 things I’ve been saying for years 1)Jews can’t stand to hear the truth about themselves and 2)people just don’t like them. It’s ironic that Google exposes this so clearly given that it’s a Jew company. Notice how quickly them amend the truth to placate their religious cohorts?

    • With your prejudiced comment there is no wonder why Jewish people mistrust the world. They do not teach hatred of anyone. They follow what “Jesus” said to do far more than the christian world with regard to “love the L-rd your G-d with all your heart might and strength, and love others as yourself” and “Don’t do to others what you would not want others to do to you”. Unfortunately the christians didn’t finish the quote Jesus was making from The Rabbis who taught him: “The rest is commentary, GO AND LEARN”. Hence the profound ignorant comments from christians or those who use christian texts to promote their hatred. Jews have nearly 2000 years of world hatred based on the bigoted text the christians follow.

  • Just add “be”, namely “Jews should be” in Google search, and you still get:
    Jews should be perfected
    Jews should be banned
    Jews should be capitalized

  • The UN is running an ad campaign for women’s rights based on Google autocompletes: Women should, Women shouldn’t, Women need to, Women cannot …

    Check it out.

  • I just did the search and it is “not” fixed!!

  • Did you care to try searching for ” Muslims should”? Would you be happy to know that Muslims should be wiped out, Muslims should be eradicated, Muslims should be killed? Or that is not your concern? If you want to be good, goodness is for all, and not for Jews only!!!

  • I remember reading a story in the Mail newspaper in London about the Holocaust three months ago. One of the comments said the following: “Oh not not again, this is old hat” I was really annoyed. I put a comment under it as follows: “Please have some respect. There are Holocaust Survivors still alive. Have some respect for them and their families”. I should have written: “You are just an ignoramus/ignorant pig, but I decided not to cos then I would have taken myself down to his level. The other day I said on a blog that people should look up where the phrase “Lest We Forget” comes from. People are just so ignorant sometimes. I also have said that this is history we are talking about and if you do not like history then go and play with your Barbie Doll or whatever you normally play with!

    • Kris Kristian

      Maybe you should write that King Edward was a Nazi.
      And that it must have been an act of God, that Edward married a whore.
      I wonder what these Jew haters who say “Oh not again,” would say, when Holocaust is brought up.

      Of course, they would not like that, as it hits them at home.

  • Ever follow the discussion comments on Yahoo’s middle-east news section? Anti-Semites post straight out anti-Semitic comments often using terms like ‘juboy’, heeb, etc. While Yahoo does have a complaint option, nothing is done. Yahoo does x out certain derogatory terms of other groups.

  • Agree, it’s disgusting.
    But just for the fun of it, try with:

    muslims should…
    christians should…
    gays should…
    etc.

    Remember this, you can find the best and the worst in the Internet.

    • Shoshan, you ‘agree, it’s disgusting’ but then you take it a step further by ‘trying’ to downplay the extreme and raging anti-Semitism that exists for Jews worldwide which occurs on a daily basis. You say “But just for the fun of it, try with:’and then you proceed to list other groups as though this ‘Jewish problem’is to be brushed off lightly, the attacks of Jews on social media are at an all time high, there is absolutely ‘nothing’ funny about this, as it’s not a game, and certainly not a competition. Yes! you can find the best and the worst on the internet, however, Jews need to stand up against the worst,and we have to do it on a constant basis.

      • You don’t get it. You are the one, as well as those who wrote and participated in contacting google, making a big stink about the anti-Semitic google autocomplete. NO OTHER RACE GIVES A SHIT WHETHER THE SAME EXACT THING OCCURS WHEN THEY GOOGLE. The problem here is your paranoia, not the google search autocomplete function. Maybe Jews should get over the google autocomplete function, huh?

  • as a jew you are making re marks that are not true you are starting trouble for no reason it is sicking to say things that are not true tell these who are saying this are sick men tally you should never print these anti stories every body is a indivual and opened minded about people

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