Saturday, December 1, 2007

Damn, Google

I can't italicize the headline, but that reads more like, "Daay-yum, Google."

It's hard to read, so I'll walk you through it. It starts, "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."

This all started when I realized that my goddaughter's pile of toys lacks a Noah's Ark, and that my prime role as godmother not only entitles, but may actually require, me to make this purchase. The other godmother would not allow her son to have a toy farm because animals are in captivity, so the Ark may fall into that category.

This could have been a post about the new traditional godchild gifts, but I couldn't think past age 1, which is definitely a Noah's Ark, and ideally a bathtub version. And it's a damn shame that the Fisher-Price version, with the coolest animals, good feel, and amusing small print ("ark does not float") is a choking hazard for children under 3.

This could have been a post about the hoops one must jump through to find "safe" toys, not only lead and roofie free, but also non-choking, non-electrical and the like. Or we could have discussed the fact that Tupperware once made this toy, and what in the world that must have been all about. Or my favorite aspect of ark renderings, which are the absurdly disporportionate animals, resulting in dogs the size of elephants, and peacocks that should not stand so dangerously close to Noah.

(notice that in this version of the story, the animals will not successfully repopulate the earth...)

Instead this post will be about this:

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 antiSemitic context. Jewish organizations are more likely to use the word "Jewish" when talking about members of their faith.
Can you picure the room full of Lawyers and PR types hammering out that paragraph?
You can see the full text of this disclaimer at

I got tired of getting the same matches from the big (leaden) toy companies, so I decided to dig deeper. Drawing on the web as the haven for home schoolin' I asked for "Jewish toys." Here are a couple of tips. If you search "biblical" or "religious" toys, you will get the christian sites first -- not that there's anything wrong with that but a) too much to sort through and b) I noticed you are less likely to get Noah's wife. another post for another day. here's another tip: once you are on your chosen site, search for "noah," not "ark." Judaism has more significant arks.

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.

Damn, Google. I said "Jewish."

Must Google the Google "incident."
Poor Google. They shouldn't have to answer that call anymore. The one where they have to explain that the world is full of hate, and the Internet is the wild west, and it isn't your town's tax-supported library, or your college's reading room. And it isn't a newspaper or a talk show. It's just an index:
The beliefs and preferences of those who work at Google, as well as the opinions of the general public, do not determine or impact our search results. Individual citizens and public interest groups do periodically urge us to remove particular links or otherwise adjust search results. Although Google reserves the right to address such requests individually, Google views the comprehensiveness of our search results as an extremely important priority.
Accordingly, we do not remove a page from our search results simply because its content is unpopular or because we receive complaints concerning it.

So don't call them. Even about something like this:

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