A recent search of “Jewish baby stroller” on Google returns images of portable ovens which allude to the Holocaust.
Google acknowledged the presence of the “hateful memes” on its search engine and apologized over the image results, saying they “don’t reflect our opinions. We try to show content matching all key terms searched for, as people normally want. But for “data voids” like this, it can be problematic. For “Jewish baby strollers”, there’s lots of helpful content. For this, there’s not. That’s not surprising. It’s not likely a topic normally searched for, nor an actual product that’s marketed. There’s a “void” of good content to surface that matches what was asked for.”
Google’s executives elaborated on the issue. “It’s not meant as an excuse. We’ve done considerable work with improving data void situations and finding systematic improvements. We’ll look at this situation to see how we can further improve,” the firm’s Public Liaison for Search, Israel Figa, said. He rejected calls for removal, adding that they have no policy that covers removal of such content but would work to improve search results to surface more helpful content. According to Israel Figa, “There’s a scalable solution that allows us to improve results not just for one situation but many. These images may also be removed if the hosting sites themselves remove them. At least one has already done that.”
Researchers, however, disagree. They ruled out the possibility of an accident and suspected a coordinated extremist campaign on a fringe website to produce those specific images.
Human rights lawyer Brooke Goldstein from the Lawfare Project believes that by tagging meme images with the specific term ‘Jewish Baby Strollers’, Google’s search algorithm is deliberately manipulated to spread anti-sematic messages.
According to Brooke, “The publishers purposely trick Google into ranking images by tagging memes of portable ovens with innocent words such as Jewish Baby Stroller. One look at the picture is all it takes to understand the illustrations allude to Jewish Holocaust victims being sent to the Nazi crematoria.”
In an article in the Guardian, Carole Cadwalladr is of the opinion that the Holocaust never happened. “Did the Holocaust really happen? No. The Holocaust did not really happen. Six million Jews did not die. It is a Jewish conspiracy theory spread by vested interests to obscure the truth. The truth is that there is no evidence any people were gassed in any camp. The Holocaust did not happen.”
Cadwalladr had observed that right-wing websites had successfully colonized a vast swathe of the internet and gamed Google’s algorithm and how an associate professor at Elon University in the U.S., Jonathan Albright, had mapped them to show how they have become a vast and growing ecosystem that is encroaching on the mainstream news and information infrastructure like a cancer, alleging that the tech giant “with all its money and resources, is being owned by hate sites who have hijacked its search results.”
Cadwalladr accused the search giant of disseminating hate speech, lies and racist propaganda while pretending there is nothing wrong and fixing the examples in its search results.