Is it possible that Google may employ some bigots or even (gasp)… conservatives?
Google is doing some explaining as to why offensive images popped up as a result of searches for Michelle Obama and Jews.
Google is running advertisements to explain the appearance of racist and anti-Semitic material in search results, including a picture which depicts US First Lady Michelle Obama as a monkey.
"Sometimes Google search results from the internet can include disturbing content, even from innocuous queries," the Mountain View, California-based search giant said in an ad signed "The Google Team".
"We assure you that the views expressed by such sites are not in any way endorsed by Google," Google said.
Their rationale for how these images could have been generated?
"A site's ranking in Google's search results relies heavily on computer algorithms using thousands of factors to calculate a page's relevance to a given query," it said.
"Sometimes subtleties of language cause anomalies to appear that cannot be predicted," Google said.
That’s not necessarily the tune they were singing back in December of 2008 when we blogged about some very curious image results we were getting from the search engine.
Google this week admitted that its staff will pick and choose what appears in its search results. It's a historic statement - and nobody has yet grasped its significance.
Not so very long ago, Google disclaimed responsibility for its search results by explaining that these were chosen by a computer algorithm. The disclaimer lives on at Google News, where we are assured that:
The selection and placement of stories on this page were determined automatically by a computer program.
A few years ago, Google's apparently unimpeachable objectivity got some people very excited, and technology utopians began to herald Google as the conduit for a new form of democracy. Google was only too pleased to encourage this view. It explained that its algorithm "relies on the uniquely democratic nature of the web by using its vast link structure as an indicator of an individual page's value. "
(emphasis in the original)
So, we can assume then that Google is back to apparent unimpeachable objectivity by relying on the uniquely democratic nature of their computer algorithm for churning up offensive pictures of the First Lady and Jews.