Anti-Semitic Image Search Results Pollute Google, Bing & DuckDuckGo

Sep 29, 2020 • 7:11 am | comments (4) by twitter | Filed Under Google Search Engine
 

Over the weekend Google and Bing (and DuckDuckGo) were all called out for displaying horrid and disgusting images that convey babies burning in ovens for searches like [jewish baby stroller] and [jewish bunk beds]. Google and Bing responded immediately to me when I forwarded it to them about their disgust but the issue is, these images still come up.

Most people know I am Jewish, I mean, I show it without question when I record my videos, speak at conferences and so on. When this was reported to me, it was about an hour before Shabbat and anyone who knows what is going on an hour before Shabbat in an observant Jewish home knows how busy it is. And then with Yom Kippur on Sunday night, there was little time to do a proper write up. In the past 3 days, I was unplugged and offline for 50+ hours of it in observance of Shabbat and Yom Kippur.

The responses I received from both Google and Bing were appropriate (both the public and private ones but more so the private ones). They were all disgusted, and ashamed, and they said they will get it fixed.

Here are the public responses:

Here is Bing:

Clearly, Google and Bing did work on fixing it but just as easily as it was for these people who wanted to pollute Google and Bing's search results to get these images in for these obscure queries (no, Jews do not search for [jewish baby strollers]), they were able to do it again for other queries like [jewish bunk beds]. Plus, now you have credible sites showing screen shots of these images because they took screenshots of the search results.

Here are the earlier reports:

It was a problem for Google, Bing and DuckDuckGo because those search engines all work the same way and the query these horrid people targeted had no images that really matched the results. That is until these people filled the "data void" of not having images that matched the result by making their own images optimized for those queries.

Here is more:

These are still an issue for all the search engines.

The search engines need to detect these things and not let it happen in the first place. They know it and they are working on it.

These are kind of called Google Bombs which Google supposedly addressed in 2007. But in 2009 it came back up for racist images of Michelle Obama, Google bought a search ad for it. Heck, even a girlfriend used a similar tactic against a boyfriend when they broke up.

Before Yom Kippur I was in a forgiving mood:

Do I blame the search engines. Not really but yea, this is upsetting. I do think these really horrible situations will lead to better results in the future around this situation. It is sad to see people in the world have so much hate.

There is so much more I can write on this. Ultimately, it is hard for me to write about this because I do not want to bring more visibility towards any type of hate. But now that it is out there, all over social media, I do hope this example will lead to better search algorithms to prevent this type of thing happening against any religion, culture or group of people.

How long will it take this to be fixed on the algorithmic level versus Google manually pulling down images or setting some sort of quality threshold to block images from lower quality sites? I do not know. I just hope this results in big improvements to these cases and this hate is not easily surfaced and then shared across social media to fuel others with hate this easily.

Forum discussion at Twitter.

Update: Several years ago Google talked about how it handles this at SMX:

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