Monday, April 05, 2004

Google Censorship

This organization is trying to have the anti-Semitic web site,, removed from the Google search engine.

I can understand how offensive this site is to them. As a Mormon, I find it virtually impossible to find anything Mormon on Google. Not because Google doesn't index Mormon things, but because it lumps them in with all kinds of anti-Mormon vitriol. If I do a search for "Mormon blog", for example, I don't come up with a list of Mormon blogs, I come up with a list of anti-Mormon blogs, as well as sites that show pictures of our most sacred things and mock our doctrine with hateful, ill-reasoned lies. But I gotta tell ya, it's not because Google is anti-Mormon. It's because Google is a computer program. Computer programs have no prejudice. I can do a Google search on, say, "Captain Moroni" and I get nothing but good hits.

Search engines cannot be trusted to make moral judgments. Even a search I did once for "Radon-Nikodym Theorem" turned up half a dozen porn sites among the results. Who would have thought that a theorem about absolutely continuous measures would be associated with porn? Everyone with a little common sense realizes this. So those looking for pro-Jewish sites on Google should be neither surprised or offended that it also turns up anti-Jewish sites. That's just the nature of the beast.

So while I feel for this organization and understand why they would wish they could search Google for "Jews" and not come up with anything anti-Semitic, I have to say that what they're doing is morally wrong. Yes, prejudice is ugly, but it's also legal in the United States, and while it might be nice for one group to have another group's views silenced (or the volume at least turned down), that's not how it works in America. If we would condemn Daily Kos for committing Google self-censorship, how much worse would it be for one group to be permitted to Google-censor another?