Google News runs antigay image
December 09 2005 1:00 AM ET
powerhouse Google for several hours on Wednesday published
an image on its health news Web page with the
words “AIDS Kills Fags Dead.” The
small image, linked to three separate HIV-related stories
throughout the day before it was finally pulled, included
the shocking tagline and a very small illustration
that was difficult to make out but appeared to be that
of a seriously ill man.
The image first
appeared next to a story about a doctor in Russia calling
for safer donated blood; was later linked to a story
about an HIV-positive Russian blood donor; and finally
appeared with a piece about HIV infections in
Voronezh, Russia. It had no connection to any of the
product manager for Google News, agreed to remove the
antigay image from the Web site when alerted to its presence
by Advocate.com, but it remained on the health page
for several hours before finally being withdrawn.
“Google takes hate speech seriously,” Stoll
told Advocate.com when notified about the problem.
"Google News does not allow hate content. If we are
made aware of articles or images that include hate
content, we will remove them."
He also said the
image came from a separate source than the news stories
it accompanied; the Google Web site attributed the antigay
image to Pravda, a Moscow-based newspaper.
public relations office issued a statement to Advocate.com
as to how its online news service operates: "Google
News is a highly unusual news service in that our
results are compiled solely by computer algorithms,
without human intervention. Google News gathers stories and
images from thousands of news sources worldwide and
automatically arranges them. By clicking on a headline
or thumbnail, users go directly to the site which
published the full story or image."
In a separate
e-mail to Advocate.com, Google's public
relations office stated that there is no editorial
review process for material appearing on its news
pages and that no Google employee was involved with
locating or posting the offensive, antigay image.
Visitors to the
site on Wednesday morning who were offended by the image
and contacted Google were told the company isn’t
responsible for the content on its news pages. Ken
Darling of Portland, Ore., who called Google’s
Mountain View, Calif., headquarters to complain, recounted
to Advocate.com, “They told me, number 1, that
this is a free news service, and number 2, that it is
‘auto-generated,’ so apparently it
sounded like they have no editorial control over what goes
out there, which I find hard to believe.
putting me on hold several times, the customer service
person told me they really didn’t have a way to
report it and suggested I contact the news media
source that originally put out the article and write a
complaint to Google about it. I told her that if this had a
different name to it instead of ‘fags,’
like the n word [that refers to
African-Americans], I’m sure they’d do
something about it.” (Advocate.com)