Google removes anti-Semitic definition of “Jew” from its search engine

For some hours it was stated that “Jewish” meant “to bargain with someone in a stingy or petty way”

Google changed search results for the word “Jew” on Tuesday, after briefly providing an anti-Semitic trope as its first definition. Before the change, the search engine listed the word as meaning “to bargain with someone in a stingy or petty way”. A label “offensive” appeared in the search result, pointing out that the origin of the term lay in 19th-century stereotypes “associating Jews with trade and moneylending”. It was stated that the definition came from Oxford Languages.

Google withdrew the said definition after criticism on social media, including from Jewish groups. “It is deeply disturbing that Google’s artificial intelligence does not recognize overt anti-Semitic hate speech in search results for the term Jew,” the World Jewish Congress said. “We expect corrective action to be taken immediately.”

Lionel BONAVENTURE / AFPThe Google logo shown on a screen and reflected on a tablet in Paris on April 29, 2018

The internet giant has apologized, saying it licenses definitions from third-party dictionary experts. “By default, we only display offending definitions if they constitute the primary meaning of a term. As this is not the case here, we have blocked view and forwarded our comments to the partner for further review,” tweeted Google Search liaison Danny Sullivan.

According to him, the dictionary boxes show definitions from third-party expert sources. The representative also said that Google does not create, write or change definitions, adding that the results do not reflect Google’s views.

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