Saturday, January 09, 2010

Search censorship

PZ Myers reports that Google censors certain searches involving Islam and Mohammedans. Yahoo search does not have this problem.

Update: This story has been picked up by Fox News:
A Google spokesman explained that the weird absence of results is just a software problem: "This is in fact a bug and we're working to fix it as quickly as we can." But the company would not respond to requests for clarification.

An intriguing corollary: Google offers search suggestions for future tense queries as well. Ask "Christianity will" and Google suggests "Christianity will end, it will disappear," and "Christianity will end." Ask the same about Islam and Google notes that "Islam will dominate the world" and "Islam will destroy Europe."
Google likes to trick people into thinking that these things are unforeseeable algorithm quirks. Don't believe it. Results like this are caused by human hand-tuning. Google employs 1000s of engineers to hand-tune searches.

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