Faith and Society News

Google auto-complete suggestions ‘gamed’ by extremist groups

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Reports in the Guardian and elsewhere have highlighted concerns over holocaust denial websites that have succeeded in manipulating search results to gain prominence.

Typing the partial phrase ‘did the holo’ into Google brings up several suggestions which lead to holocaust denial websites.

Previous auto-completes which included the suggestion ‘are jews evil’ for the partial phrase ‘are jews’ had been dealt with, either by human editing or by adjustment of the controlling algorithm. The phrase “are Muslims bad,” another wording brought up in the Guardian’s article, appeared when a user typed in “are Muslims, and this also appears to now also have been dealt with.

In a follow-up article in the Observer, Carole Cadwalladr said: “Google must urgently review its search ranking system because of “compelling” evidence that it is being “manipulated and controlled” by rightwing propagandists, leading academics have said, after the Observer reported that hate sites are now dominating searches on Muslims, Jews, Hitler and women.

Cathy O’Neil, a data scientist and the author of Weapons on Math Destruction, said that unless Google acknowledged responsibility for the problem, it would be a “co-conspirator” with the propagandists. “This is the end for Google pretending to be a neutral platform,” she said. “It clearly has a terrible problem here and it has to own and acknowledge that.”

See the Obersver article here

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