Google Search Results and Online Petitions

  • July 24, 2007

A much circulated e-mail rumor claims that Google will remove an offensive search result if a certain number of people sign an online petition. This e-mail encourages recipients to add their name to an online petition urging the popular Internet search engine to remove the anti-Semitic "Jewwatch" site from its search results for the word "Jew."

ADL recommends that concerned individuals not sign this petition for two reasons:

1) The petition makes the signers' names publicly accessible, and many users have not been aware of this fact because they did not read the site's terms of service. As a result, there have been cases where the names of people who signed the petition were copied and reposted to anti-Semitic Web sites. Those sites took the names and created offensive commentary about those signing the petition.

2) Signing the petition will not effect any change, since Google is already well aware of the problem and has proactively taken steps to flag offensive results.

The best practice for those concerned with Google's policy or with a particular search result is to notify the company directly in writing, rather than relying on Internet petitions or other third-party campaigns.

Google has been very responsive to concerns about hate sites coming up high in their rankings on certain searches. ADL has praised Google for taking steps to better identify and categorize hate sites. Google's policy is explained here.

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