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Google Responds To Jew Watch Controversy

WebProNews
Staff Writer
Published: 2004-04-15

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Prominent search engine Google has been embroiled in a controversy surrounding search results for the keyword "Jew." As reported in WPN, the search of the word "Jew" yielded a results page with JewWatch.com as the number one listing.

JewWatch.com is a noted anti-Semitic site that tries to hide behind a "we are just gatherers of information" veil. When news of this result was discovered, many Jewish watch groups were understandably upset, and petitioned Google to remove that site from its US listings.

JewWatch.com is blocked by the German version of Google.

Google's response was, "Google merely reflects what is on the Web and does its best to algorithmically rank pages. Unless [a Web page] violates a country or local law, we don't make any tweaks."

Google has stated that they don't change listings unless country legislation dictates otherwise. In response to this controversy, Google has created a page that gives an explanation of their search results while addressing the JewWatch issue head on.

"If you use Google to search for 'Judaism,' 'Jewish' or 'Jewish people,' the results are informative and relevant. So why is a search for 'Jew' different? One reason is that the word 'Jew' is often used in an anti-Semitic context. Jewish organizations are more likely to use the word 'Jewish' when talking about members of their faith. The word has become somewhat charged linguistically, as noted on websites devoted to Jewish topics such as these:

http://shakti.trincoll.edu/~mendele/vol01/vol01.174
http://www.jewishworldreview.com/cols/jonah081500.asp

Google continued with an apology to those who are offended by certain search results. "Because of our objective and automated ranking system, Google cannot be influenced by these petitions. The only sites we omit are those we are legally compelled to remove or those maliciously attempting to manipulate our results."

"We apologize for the upsetting nature of the experience you had using Google and appreciate your taking the time to inform us about it."

Incidentally, JewWatch is no longer the number one listing for the keyword "Jew". According to Google Blogscoped, JewWatch has been "jooglebombed" out of first place. Also, when the word "Jew" is searched, the lead AdWords ad in the results page is a link to Google's explanation page.

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