Is everyone Jewish on Google?

22 Mar 2010 by CST

A few weeks ago there was outrage in certain areas of the blogosphere about the suggested results given by Google when the terms “Arabs are” and “why do Arabs” is typed into the search engine.  These posts have generally accused Google and/or its users of racism because some of the results that come back are quite insulting:

why do arabs

Typing in “are Muslims” or "are Jews" produces similar sets of results with some, but not all, derogatory answers:

are muslims

are jews

(On a side note, the penultimate result regarding Dubai is not a by-product of the assassination of Hamas commander Mahmoud al-Mabhouh; it came up as a suggestion before that story broke.)

One curiosity that emerged during our research concerns the fascination with whether or not people are Jewish.  One suggestion in the search that consistently appears is the supposed Jewishness of prominent individuals.  For example, taking a selection of leading British politicians:

is gordon brown

is tony blair

is david cameron

It also applies to American politicians:

is george bush

is sarah palin

is barak obama

(Oddly, this last search does not produce the "is...jewish" result if you spell "Barack" correctly, but only if you spell it "Barak".)

It even applies to foreign politicians, past and present, who really ought to be exempt from this kind of speculation:

is ahmadinejad2

is hitler2

The list goes on……

 is rupert murdoch

And on

is tom cruise2

And on

is hugh grant2

Have we missed a memo? Was there a mass conversion? Or is there something else going on here? Just how does Google create these suggestion lists? What formula is it based upon? It obviously isn’t on size as you can see from the examples above - the result numbers given range from 90,000 to the hundreds of millions in one search and they are not listed in size order.

Even those people who are not significant or high profile enough to warrant ten results do not escape this peculiar obsession:

is david irving

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