Google has removed the 'are Jews evil' suggestion from its autocomplete feature after a media report brought to light the offensive term.
The autocomplete feature suggests common search terms after a user enters one or more words into the site's search box or even address bar if the default browser is Chrome. An Observer article highlighted how technologically advanced right-wingers have been able to crack the way in which Google's algorithms for search suggestion work and made attempts to make such terms appear in the top results.
When a person clicks on the suggestion 'are Jews evil?' which Google considers as a question, results pop up of articles and blogs that are predominantly anti-Jew. One such suggestion as per the report was "Top 10 major reasons why people hate Jews".
"We took action within hours of being notified on Friday of the autocomplete results," a Google spokesperson said.
"Our search results are a reflection of the content across the web. This means that sometimes unpleasant portrayals of sensitive subject matter online can affect what search results appear for a given query. These results don't reflect Google's own opinions or beliefs – as a company, we strongly value a diversity of perspectives, ideas and cultures," said the clarification from the company.
Google has been criticised in the past as well for its autocomplete and search algorithms causing offence. In July 2015, two black teenagers were labelled as "gorillas" by Google Photos' auto suggested photo tag. Earlier in May 2015, the White House showed up as a result for searches for "nigger house" and "nigger king" in Google maps. The company had later apologised for both the incidents.
In addition, Facebook, Google and Twitter are facing severe criticism for failing to prevent fake news from appearing on their sites many of which end up as search results for such offensive terms. Jonathan Albright, an assistant professor of communications at Elon University in North Carolina, did detailed research on the current phenomenon and one of his results found that rightwing websites had spread their message successfully through such means.
"They have created a web that is bleeding through on to our web. This isn't a conspiracy. There isn't one person who's created this. It's a vast system of hundreds of different sites that are using all the same tricks that all websites use. They're sending out thousands of links to other sites and together this has created a vast satellite system of rightwing news and propaganda that has completely surrounded the mainstream media system," he said.