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:
Typing in are Muslims or "are Jews" produces similar sets of results with some, but not all, derogatory answers:
(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:
It also applies to American politicians:
(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:
The list goes on
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 isnt 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: