How Does Hate Speech Find Prominence on the Internet?

May 6, 2004

Source: The Martin Marty Center

http://marty-center.uchicago.edu/sightings/archive_2004/0506.shtml

On May 6, 2004 The Martin Marty Center reported, "In the weeks before Passover and Easter, a search on the word "Jew" at the popular Internet search engine Google returned a vehemently anti-Jewish site, JewWatch.com, as the first link. 'Jewish Mind Control,' 'Jewish Power Lords,' and 'Jewish-Run Organizations' (identified as the New York Times and the NAACP) are among the many distressing links presented on the site. The Jewish community was outraged, petitions circulated and angry articles appeared in Jewish newspapers around the country. Google refused to make any changes to its list, stating that it determined a site's placement by a system of algorithms designed to calculate a site's relevancy. Unless a site was blatantly illegal, Google would not interfere with these algorithmic calculations. Due to the petitions and protests, Google now posts a note about its methods and views as the primary link when searching the word "Jew." In addition, a 'Google-bombing' campaign run by various Jewish groups has changed the primary 'Jew' link to an informative and neutral encyclopedia article. However, the situation is far from resolved, and raises several important questions about anti-Jewish sentiment and the nature of the Internet. How could a hate-filled site rise to such a prominent position in the first place?"