In attempt to utilize technology to spread hate and Anti-Semitism, image memes depicting portable ovens (alluding to holocaust victims being taken to gas chambers) are tagged with the keyword ‘Jewish baby stroller’ to manipulate Google’s search engine into producing horrific results.
The Jewish community has expressed concern, claiming websites, social networks and search engines are regularly used to spread hate and propaganda.
Google states it is finding out ways of improving search results, claiming its policy is to only remove illegal content such as child pornography. According to spokesman Israel Figa, the search giant is trying to find alternative ways to surface content that is important to the public.
Brooke Goldstein, a human rights activist and litigator, claims Google, Bing and other search engines need to take a more proactive approach to eliminate the spread of hate, violence and discrimination on their platforms. “Search engines play a major roll in delivering access to user-created content” says Goldstein while explaining, “In that capacity, they have the capability to penalize the site rankings of websites who fail to adhere to moral code and legal conduct”.
The ADL Central Pacific Regional Director, Seth Brisk, claims it is very irritating when horrible and immoral content confronts you while searching for information on the internet.
Indeed, more controversial content has been found on Google search, and this is not the first time. For instance, Google had to apologize when “Michelle Obama” was typed in the Google image search engine in 2009; the search result showed a derogatory image.
The difficulties in identifying the nature or content of pictures, claims Israel Figa, are based on an algorithm that matches the words in publications to those appearing next to images within the webpage. To avoid spreading of hate on social media platforms, ADL challenges technology companies to put more effort.
Lately, many oppressed groups such as the #Metoo Movement, ‘End Jew Hatred’ and Black Lives Matter are mobilizing in numbers and speaking out. For example, End Jew Hatred, a grassroots civil rights movement, made a name for itself by challenging bigotry with direct action. To achieve their goal to rid the internet of Anti-Semitism, they recently called on millions of their followers to adhere to a 48-hour boycott of Instagram and Twitter.
“When search and social network traffic numbers drop, the executives naturally go into panic mode” says real estate mogul Eli Verschleiser. “Over the past 15 years since the inception of social communities, digital protesting has proven to be a very influential policy changer. Instead of blame automated algorithms for distasteful results, especially when referencing innocent words such as ‘Jewish Baby Stroller’, search engines need to manually intervene.