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May 22, 2017 12:32 pm

ADL Calls on Google to Take Action After Revelations That Deniers Included in ‘Holocaust Historian’ Search Results

avatar by Rachel Frommer

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Google image bar results for a search of “Holocaust historian” lists David Irving, among other Holocaust deniers. Photo: Screenshot.

An Anti-Defamation League (ADL) cyber-hate expert has called on Google to take action following revelations that Holocaust deniers are included in the image bar results for a search of “Holocaust historians.”

Jonathan Vick — the ADL’s associate director of investigative technology and cyber-hate — said he was certain that Google would edit the algorithm for the search results to ensure the exclusion of deniers and antisemites.

“[Google has] been confronted with this sort of issue in the past, and there is no real question of how they will respond,” Vick said. “These are unintended and painful consequences of an algorithm that clearly needs human intervention.”

The very first “historian” listed is David Irving, with other results including David Hoggan, author of The Myth of the Six Million, and one-time Columbia University historian Harry Elmer Barnes, who wrote a 1964 article titled “The Zionist Fraud,” in which he claimed Israel manufactured the Holocaust to squeeze reparations from Germany.

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All three individuals were discussed in Deborah Lipstadt’s Denying the Holocaust, published in 1993 and considered by many to be a seminal text in the study of Holocaust denial. This was the book that triggered Irving’s failed 1996 libel suit against Lipstadt, a case immortalized last year in the film, “Denial.”

Vick said he was highly concerned by the fact that “we don’t know how long this issue has been up, and it would’ve been nice if someone had noticed earlier.” He noted that having misinformation “like deniers being included in a list of legitimate scholars” readily available across the internet “certainly impacts Holocaust education.”

Google press representatives did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

In 2013, it was exposed that auto-fill suggestions on the search engine for “Jews should” included a host of disturbing antisemitic phrases. Google subsequently edited that algorithm to exclude the most offensive statements from appearing in the auto-fill feature.

UPDATE: The Google search results for “Holocaust historian” have now been updated to exclude the image bar entirely.

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