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ADL - Anti-Defamation League

Press Release Internet

 

ADL Praises Google for Responding to Concerns About Rankings of Hate Sites

New York, NY, April 22, 2004 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today praised Google for responding to its concerns about rankings of extremist Web sites. Google has assured ADL that its staff is looking at various technical modifications that will enable the Internet search engine to better identify and categorize racially offensive sites that come up in search results.

In a letter to ADL, Google President Sergey Brin apologized to users who found the search results for the word "Jew" upsetting and promised to work for a solution that would satisfy ADL's concerns and those of users offended by the #1 ranking of an anti-Semitic Web site.

"We are extremely pleased that Google has heard our concerns and those of its users about the offensive nature of some search results and the unusually high ranking of peddlers of bigotry and anti-Semitism," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. "Google has shown great responsiveness to this issue and a willingness to consider changes to better identify extremist Web sites, so that users can still have the benefit of Google's unique search technology while being alerted when they are about to enter into a hate zone."

In response to a deluge of e-mails about Google, ADL contacted the company earlier this month to express its concern and offer suggestions for categorizing hate sites without censoring them in the results. Google's response was immediate and has led to ongoing discussions between ADL's Internet monitoring team and Google's technical experts.

Until the technical modifications are implemented, Google has placed text on its site that gives users a clear explanation of how search results are obtained. Google searches are automatically determined using computer algorithms that take into account thousands of factors to calculate a page's relevance.

"We apologize for the upsetting nature of the experience you had using Google and appreciate your taking the time to inform us about it," Mr. Brin said in his letter. "This is clearly an issue that we care deeply about, and we plan to explore additional ways of addressing it in the future."

 

The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.

 



Appendix 1

Google´s Jewish President Sergey Brin´s letter to the Jewish lobby group ADL

 
Google Inc.
Mountain View, CA 94043

April 21, 2004

Abraham H. Foxman
National Director
Anti-Defamation League

Dear Mr. Foxman:

Thank you for taking the time to express your concerns related to Google's site ranking technology. As a result of several constructive discussions with Senator Charles Schumer, members of his staff, and based on input from you and your team, we are currently looking at various technical modifications - specifically for categories and other auxiliary information.

This is clearly an issue that we care deeply about, and we plan to explore additional ways of addressing it in the future.

We would also like to thank you for posting an explanation on your website noting that a site's ranking in Google's search results are automatically determined by computer algorithms using thousands of factors to calculate a page's relevance to a given query.

I have attached the text we have put on our website that gives users a clear explanation of Google's search results. And I would like to underscore how the views expressed by the sites in your results are not in any way endorsed by Google.

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

Thank you again for your letter and for your invitation to work with you in educating the public about how best to use web search technology and how we can improve our service.

 

Sincerely,

Sergey Brin
President, Technology
Google Inc.

 

 

 

Appendix 2

Google´s explanation for the word "Jew". This document is the first linked hit when you search for the word "Jew" in Google

 

An explanation of our search results,

If you recently used Google to search for the word "Jew," you may have seen results that were very disturbing. We assure you that the views expressed by the sites in your results are not in any way endorsed by Google. We'd like to explain why you're seeing these results when you conduct this search.

A site's ranking in Google's search results is automatically determined by computer algorithms using thousands of factors to calculate a page's relevance to a given query. Sometimes subtleties of language cause anomalies to appear that cannot be predicted. A search for "Jew" brings up one such unexpected result.

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

Someone searching for information on Jewish people would be more likely to enter terms like "Judaism," "Jewish people," or "Jews" than the single word "Jew." In fact, prior to this incident, the word "Jew" only appeared about once in every 10 million search queries. Now it's likely that the great majority of searches on Google for "Jew" are by people who have heard about this issue and want to see the results for themselves.

Our search results are generated completely objectively and are independent of the beliefs and preferences of those who work at Google. Some people concerned about this issue have created online petitions to encourage us to remove particular links or otherwise adjust 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.

Sincerely,
The Google Team

P.S. You may be interested in some additional information the Anti-Defamation League has posted about this issue at http://www.adl.org/rumors/google_search_rumors.asp. In addition, we call your attention to both the Jewish Internet Association, an organization that addresses online anti-semitism, at http://www.jewishinternetassociation.org/, and Google's search results on this topic.

 

 

 




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