Friday, 12 October 2007

Rant and let rant?

I was recently forwarded this.

We all have to sign a petition to force Google to remove from their websites lists the website:

This site is devoted to anti-Semitism, hate of Jews and so, with false articles and researches.....It is one of the first website appearing when searching Jew on Google!

To force Google to remove this website, we need to gather at least 500,000 signatures.

We already got 272,000 signatures. We need 200,000 more!

Please sign the petition at:
and spread it to all your friends.

I haven't clicked on the site, which sounds not that dissimilar to the numerous hate-fests that riddle the web, directed at pretty much any definable minority from Roma to gays to liberals and visited, one imagines, by people who already share the views expressed and enjoy the sizzle of seeing them on their screens and of feeling they belong to their own grubby little tribe.

Certainly, it makes me uncomfortable to think that it should appear so quickly on Google searches. But it makes me even more uncomfortable to find out that half a million people can render a site effectively invisible by forcing Google to take it off their listings. Censorship is a double-edged weapon and I'd be very worried if, having used it to remove this undoubtedly loathsome site from circulation, it were then used against, say, Joe.My.God or any of a thousand other sites or blogs that represent ideas unacceptable to large swathes of the public. It surely wouldn't be difficult to find 500,000 rabid homophobes only to happy to sign that kind of petition.

In the long run, it seems preferable to let the ranters rant than to lose the chance to express our own opinions and beliefs without being hounded into obscurity.


David Isaak said...

Do 500k signatures really "force" Google to remove things from their search list? Is that even a Google policy?

In any case, it seems that this would have the perverse effect of steering more traffic to the wensite in question as people go there to be outraged...

David Isaak said...

Nope. Went and checked (via Google, of course) Google has no such policy and no legal grounds for taking any such action. 5,000 signatures or 50,000,000 signatures. Makes no difference.

However, I agree with the point of your post, which was that censorship via vote would be a horribly oppressive idea.

Dale said...

I am outraged that more people don't show your good sense! Where do I sign for that? :-)

Charles Lambert said...

David, thanks for checking and for the useful link.