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Google Excluding Controversial Sites
rubble88




msg:40611
 8:09 am on Oct 24, 2002 (gmt 0)

An article on News.Com [news.com.com]

"Google, the world's most popular search engine, has quietly deleted more than 100 controversial sites from some search result listings. Absent from Google's French and German listings are Web sites that are anti-Semitic, pro-Nazi, or related to white supremacy, according to a new report from Harvard University's Berkman Center.

It will be interesting to see the complete list of sites and determine if they're still available from other general search databases and/or the Internet Archive.

You can find additional details on the Berkman Center site. [cyber.law.harvard.edu]

 

NFFC




msg:40612
 12:17 pm on Oct 24, 2002 (gmt 0)

That looks like news to me, according to my check it looks as if the Berkman center is right.

creative craig




msg:40613
 12:27 pm on Oct 24, 2002 (gmt 0)

Some people may say that Google are restricting a surfers right to view a web site, if they are now taking these types of sites out of their database due to content of the site instead of SEO problems with the site.

Not my own view though, but still a valid point!

Craig

Monkscuba




msg:40614
 12:52 pm on Oct 24, 2002 (gmt 0)

Google is a US company isn't it?
I'm not from the USA, but I think it's in the constitution somewhere about freedom of speech...

However, if it's true, hooray! Google should be applauded if they take such a stance against offensive, racist material. As far as I see, as a private company they have the right to exclude sites if they wish, though they have such a monopoly that such power could be dangerous....As long as Google continues to be run by nice people we are all safe, and I hope they really can keep evil views out of our computers.

gstewart




msg:40615
 1:03 pm on Oct 24, 2002 (gmt 0)

As long as Google continues to be run by nice people we are all safe

When we start making rules and laws based on the benevolence of the present bunch of despots, then we're in pretty risky territory.
As a good European liberal democrat, I'm in a quandary: I applaud the banning of all racially offensive material, but equally wish to allow free speech.
An eternal problem for us good guys!

Rugles




msg:40616
 1:06 pm on Oct 24, 2002 (gmt 0)

It did say it was only the French and German versions of Google.
However, freedom of speech is limited even the the USA. Take for example, yelling fire in a theater, slander laws, there are some other examples I am sure.

Brad




msg:40617
 1:16 pm on Oct 24, 2002 (gmt 0)

But what happens if they decide to delete political and religous dissentors just because they have been outlawed by a dictitorial government? That whole China issue comes to mind.

It may not be happening now, but it could happen. There needs to be some list available to the public so watchdog groups and the press can monitor.

cornwall




msg:40618
 1:16 pm on Oct 24, 2002 (gmt 0)

It did say it was only the French and German versions of Google.

Does this not go back to the Yahoo case

[guardian.co.uk...]

And the view taken by European courts on "offensive" material

bird




msg:40619
 1:25 pm on Oct 24, 2002 (gmt 0)

Google is simply doing business in a lawful manner. Nazi propaganda is illegal in Germany for a reason. Since Google has offices in Germany and www.google.de specifically targets that market, they have no choice in the matter.

creative craig




msg:40620
 1:31 pm on Oct 24, 2002 (gmt 0)

This is one of those age old discussions about what is seen as a violation of some ones freedom of choice. It happens all over the world.

Nazi material is illegal and for a good reason, but lets hope that they dont start doing the same to political material like Brad said.

Craig

jk3210




msg:40621
 1:32 pm on Oct 24, 2002 (gmt 0)

I believe the "Freedom of Speech" clause in the Constitution only applies to GOVERNMENT restrictions on free speech, not individuals or businesses.

threecrans




msg:40622
 1:45 pm on Oct 24, 2002 (gmt 0)

You have the right to have a political view without persecution.

You do not have a right to be included in Google's index.

TallTroll




msg:40623
 1:51 pm on Oct 24, 2002 (gmt 0)

>> You do not have a right to be included in Google's index.

Yup. If their listing decisions (whether on this topic, or more generally on say spam content, and how it is dealt with) materially affect the end users perception of the quality of Googles results, people will go elsewhere. Thats the best check there is on all search engines

Just ask Altavista....

gstewart




msg:40624
 2:42 pm on Oct 24, 2002 (gmt 0)

>> You do not have a right to be included in Google's index.
Google's getting close to being in a monopoly position amongst SE's, and Governments have often become involved when what they perceived as being the "public interest" was threatened.

rcjordan




msg:40625
 3:01 pm on Oct 24, 2002 (gmt 0)

>Governments have often become involved when what they perceived as being the "public interest"

Right, and from a business standpoint (unless your business is one that profits from controversy), the most profitable thing to do is to dodge the problem areas and go for those that generate ROI. TallTroll makes an excellent point, engines that the public generally perceives as being flawed fail to keep market-share. That said, I don't think that the exclusion of controversial sites carries enough weight with the general public to cause any SE to worry that there might be a negative backlash.

chiyo




msg:40626
 3:43 pm on Oct 24, 2002 (gmt 0)

the problem is if they censor one type of site do they censor others? Where do they draw the line. How does a site qualify as anti-semitic and do they also ban anti-Muslim sites?

To some pornography and anti catholic sites are just as offensive as the ones mentioned, but I believe they still exist in Google.

Censorship unfortunately always involves a value judgment, and as a search engine that covers the whole world, are we to be dictated to about what we can find on the internet based on (and I'm not saying Google are), by say left liberal American values?

As always my own view is Google can do what they like, but if they don't give me the results i need, i am free to go somewhere else. But i also may feel uncomfortable enough with the censorship policies to not have that brand affinity i used to, and look elsewhere because of that. Not that anything specific concerns me now and not referring to what they are banning now, but just the principle.

[edited by: chiyo at 3:54 pm (utc) on Oct. 24, 2002]

Fiver




msg:40627
 3:52 pm on Oct 24, 2002 (gmt 0)

I think google has to decide between being a librarian with views, and a librarian who's neutral.

they've always hinted that it was their style to be the latter, but this information hiding is more like the former.

but hate literature is a touchy issue.. it's illegal in many countries I'm sure, under the premise that hating hate isn't hating, in the same way that killing a killer isn't killing. Trust me when you see the white power for kids stuff they're removing, you're thankful... but damned if it doesn't feel right in a way...

just seems strange for google to take action on something like this without there being some kind of legal provocation... or was there?

Fiver




msg:40628
 4:12 pm on Oct 24, 2002 (gmt 0)

I guess there was legal provocation

quote
Nate Tyler, spokesman for Google, said: "To avoid legal liability, we remove sites from Google.de search results pages that may conflict with German law."
/quote

[silicon.com...]

cminblues




msg:40629
 4:13 pm on Oct 24, 2002 (gmt 0)

I think this is a test.

Google changes and "new frontiers" of the last months are obvious, I think.

So, from G. POV, maybe it's another "Lets see how users & media react, if we start doing this".

Note also that the "right" to manually ban a site, is related with the SK issue.

<added>Ooops, just read the fiver post.. maybe I'm wrong. :)</added>

cminblues

rcjordan




msg:40630
 4:17 pm on Oct 24, 2002 (gmt 0)

>i also may feel uncomfortable enough with the censorship policies to not have that brand affinity i used to, and look elsewhere because of that.

Exactly. Any editorial policy must try to gauge that point. For commercial enterprises, the cost/risk of litigation (particularly when you're taking on a country's own legal system) has to be factored in, or you're simply going to be litigated out of existence in that area.

By an uncanny coincidence, we have a member who has been engaged to search for some libelous material "out there on the web somewhere." The possibility that a search engine may be excluding negative content changes the whole web research field in some areas, doesn't it?

>the principle

Heh! One of my attorneys once told me that he loved to hear the phrase "it's the principle" because he knew it meant BIG money for him.

Bernie




msg:40631
 4:54 pm on Oct 24, 2002 (gmt 0)

Nazi material is illegal and for a good reason, but lets hope that they dont start doing the same to political material like Brad said.

even more, if e.g. someone indoubts what happened in ausschwitz and other CCs he incurs a penalty in germany for a good reason: the german state and the huge majority of germany's population are against nazis.

the problem is: websites located outside germany are not pursuable by german law and in many states around europe publishing this sort of information is unfortunately legal.

if google contributes in making it at least harder to find these sites, I am definitely with them.

the problem will be the fine line. if they censor they take over some sort of political responsability and then it becomes really hard to decide in less obvious cases.

luma




msg:40632
 5:07 pm on Oct 24, 2002 (gmt 0)

The problem is that no one knows, which sites are filtered. The Berkman Center notes:

Of the sites excluded from Google results in France and Germany, some contain content known to be controversial, but the exclusion of others is less obvious. Seth Finkelstein points out that some of these names may have been transferred from one registrant to another, resulting in a significant change in the content available; however, Google may have failed to update its filtering list to reflect such transfers.

The public should know which domains are filtered and for what reason. I'd also like to know, who makes the decision. Is there some German agency that sends a list once a month?

Think about it: It could be you, buying an expired domain name w/o knowing it's on Google's blacklist. Some of the 113 blocked domains sound quite normal, e.g., abbc.com.

BTW, we had this discussion before (can't find the thread even though is looked hard). That's when I changed Opera's google.de search back to google.com.

Sinner_G




msg:40633
 11:43 am on Oct 25, 2002 (gmt 0)

The public should know which domains are filtered and for what reason.

Don't think that would be a good idea. How do you picture that? A page with a liste of banned IPs? Then every nazi would just visit that page and check out the IPs listed.

I personally think it would be enough for Google just to have a disclaimer stating that sites may be excluded because of offensive content.

victor




msg:40634
 12:08 pm on Oct 25, 2002 (gmt 0)

Google's FAQ under the question:

My web pages used to be listed and now they aren't.
[google.com...]

Does not cover the case "We removed you for legal reasons". Maybe it needs an update.

johnypalillo




msg:40635
 12:44 pm on Oct 25, 2002 (gmt 0)

I am with Chiyo?

will Google.cl bann Pinochet sites?
What religion, ideal, expression, what will be the next one? IRA in UK? Batasuna in Spain? Chechen rebels? Socialist?

I dislike the Nazi, nationalist and xenophobic ideals, but where is the line? In the last year we, the internet users, have lost a big piece of our freedom. It's just the principle.

Top




msg:40636
 2:05 pm on Oct 25, 2002 (gmt 0)

It seems to me that they already have removed a site on the basis of political or religous views heres a quote from the Cnet article.

"Also banned is Jesus-is-lord.com, a fundamentalist Christian site that is adamantly opposed to abortion."

Sonds like discrimination for holding a particular view to me.

Note to moderator: Clip the url if you must, but its not my site and I only included it to make a point.

Peace

NFFC




msg:40637
 2:16 pm on Oct 25, 2002 (gmt 0)

That URL isn't banned, a lot of the others aren't either. If I get time over the weekend I will have a look at them all but I fear the Berkman Center's methods may be flawed.

john316




msg:40638
 2:22 pm on Oct 25, 2002 (gmt 0)

The URL is in the index.

I found it interesting that you have a bunch of Harvard professors on "google watch". It seems we are not the only ones who scrutinize serps. ;)

They also don't seem to be going down the PR, kw density, algo sniffing route. They see what they see.

Sinner_G




msg:40639
 2:37 pm on Oct 25, 2002 (gmt 0)

The URL Jesus-is-lord.com is included in the .com and the .de index, but not for .fr. Which is what the Berkman [cyber.law.harvard.edu] guys said.

buckworks




msg:40640
 3:04 pm on Oct 25, 2002 (gmt 0)

I believe in freedom of speech, and I believe in (and sometimes exercise) my freedom to write or say things that others might find offensive.

I don't think it follows that others have any obligation to help me publicize what I say if they don't like it.

This 37 message thread spans 2 pages: 37 ( [1] 2 > >
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