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Google Instant's Allegedly 'Anti-Semitic' Results Lead To Lawsuit In France

The Huffington Post  |  By Posted: 05/ 1/2012 1:58 pm Updated: 05/ 1/2012 3:54 pm

Google Instant

A new lawsuit alleges that Google's search engine has an anti-Semitism problem.

French anti-discrimination organization SOS Racisme, in association with the Union of Jewish Students of France, the Movement Against Racism and for Friendship Among Peoples and other organizations, is suing Google because its autocomplete feature suggests the word "Jewish" in searches involving certain public figures, including News Corporation chairman Rupert Murdoch and actor Jon Hamm, reports The Times of Israel.

Indeed, querying the search engine for "Jon Hamm," for example, yields "Jon Hamm Jewish" as one of the top results.


According to Google's website, its algorithm for the Google Instant autocomplete feature "predicts and displays search queries based on other users' search activities and the contents of web pages indexed by Google." In addition, the search engine says it strives to "reflect the diversity of content on the web (some good, some objectionable)" and so has a narrow set of removal policies for pornography, violence, hate speech, etc. -- though not narrow enough for SOS Racisme, it seems.

A lawyer for SOS Racisme, Patrick Kulgman, told Agence France Presse (AFP) that Google's autocomplete algorithms have resulted in "the creation of what is probably the biggest Jewish file in history," according to The Times of Israel. As an "ethnic file," this compilation is outlawed in the country.

Local reports pointed out by The Hollywood Reporter explain that the plaintiffs contend users of Google in France and across the world are systematically confronted with the unsolicited association of the term "Jew" with prominent names in the world of politics, media, and business. A hearing for the lawsuit is scheduled for Wednesday.

The Hollywood Reporter also writes that the last lawsuit Google saw in France due to its autocomplete feature occurred in 2009, when two French companies sued the search engine because its autocomplete feature suggested the French word for "scam" in searches for said companies' names.

Just over a month ago, a man in Japan won an injunction against Google to have the autocomplete feature turned off when someone searched the man's name. Apparently, the search engine was connecting the man's name with crimes he had not committed and, according to Japan Times, "likely played a role in the sudden loss of his job several years ago and caused several companies to subsequently reject him when he applied for new jobs."

Related on HuffPost:

Not everything hidden within Google search is offensive or controversial. There are also some awesome easter eggs you can unlock if you know the right keywords to use. Here are our favorites:
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  • Let It Snow

    When you type "let it snow" into the search bar, Google sends a shower of snowflakes down your screen. But watch out! It gets frosty fast. If that happens, just use your cursor like an ice scraper or click "defrost." It's a good way to prepare for those frosty mornings in the car.

  • Do A Barrel Roll

    Wanna feel like you're flying a fighter jet while you look for things on the internet? Type <a href="" target="_hplink">"do a barrel roll"</a> into the Google search bar and watch the whole page roll over.

  • Zerg Rush

    If you query Google for "Zerg Rush," you'll unlock a playable "Starcraft" homage that unleashes dozens of letter Os on the page. You can earn some points by clicking on the letters and stopping them in their tracks, but eventually they'll overwhelm and devour your search results. You can't win no matter how speedy your point-and-click skills.

  • What Is The Loneliest Number?

    You shouldn't be afraid to ask Google the hard questions. Query <a href=",or.r_gc.r_pw.,cf.osb&fp=54eccb786198c044&biw=1280&bih=615" target="_hplink">"What is the loneliest number"</a> and Google's calculator will tell you that it is "1". The calculator returns the same answer when you query "the answer to life, the universe, and everything," as well as "the number of horns on a unicorn." Image via <a href="" target="_hplink">Google</a>

  • Askew

    Get Google a little tipsy when you search<a href=",or.r_gc.r_pw.,cf.osb&fp=54eccb786198c044&biw=1280&bih=615" target="_hplink"> "askew".</a> Image via <a href="" target="_hplink">Google</a>

  • Google Gravity

    Tired of Google being so weightless all the time? Bring it down to Earth by entering "Google gravity" and clicking "I'm Feeling Lucky". Once the search bar, buttons and logo have collapsed into a heap at the bottom of the page, you can toss them around the page by clicking, dragging and releasing them.

  • Recursion

    You know when you're in a bathroom with lots of mirrors and you look into one and see your reflection <a href="" target="_hplink">repeated into infinity?</a> That's called recursion. <a href="" target="_hplink">According to Merriam-Webster,</a> the word means "a procedure that can repeat itself indefinitely." If you <a href="" target="_hplink">Google with the word "recursion,"</a> Google will suggest the following at the top of its list of search results: "Did you mean: recursion." If you click Google's suggestion, a new page will load, but "Did you mean: recursion" will remain at the at the top of the results list. (With the time and inclination, you could go on and on like this forever.)

  • Where Is Chuck Norris?

    Google saves you from a roundhouse kick to the face by coming up empty when you attempt an "I'm Feeling Lucky" search for <a href="" target="_hplink">"Where is Chuck Norris?"</a> Instead users are <a href="" target="_hplink">taken to</a>, which displays text that reads, "Google won't search for Chuck Norris because it knows you don't find Chuck Norris, he finds you." The page also gives users an option to search "pages from Chuck's Beard."

  • Once In A Blue Moon

    The Google Calculator also returns more complicated answers. Query "baker's dozen" and the calculator returns "13." Searching "once in a blue moon" yields a comically small number (seen above).

  • Google Pig Latin

    Otay eesay Oogle'sgay omepagehay anslatedtray intoway Igpay Atinlay, ypetay <a href="" target="_hplink">"ooglegay igpay atinlay"</a> intoway Ooglegay andway ithay "I'mway Eelingfay Uckylay". You can also customize your Google search to <a href="" target="_hplink">display text in a number of languages</a>, such French, German and Japanese, as well as Latin, Pirate and Klingon.

  • BONUS: Play 'Snake' In YouTube Videos

    If you're watching a dull video on, you can press the Up+Left arrows simultaneously to enjoys a game of "Snake" over the video. <a href="" target="_hplink">According to The Next Web</a>, this trick doesn't work for videos with "annotations or ads. It's limited to the videos played on YouTube's site and it doesn't work for embedded videos." Check out the video (above) to see how it's done.



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