Tech company changes its algorithm after outcry that its “direct answers” search tool resulted in a response deemed anti-Semitic
“Who runs Hollywood?”
Up until Friday, Google’s widely used “direct answers” search tool offered a decisive answer. Wait for it… “Jews.”
But after that response kicked up an online firestorm on Friday and charges of digital anti-Semitism, the tech giant quickly changed its algorithm to produce a less contentious search result.
Last year, the people at Google started toying with new ways to run searches, inserting a white box above the blue links where it put answers to more complicated questions.
A search for “Who runs Hollywood?” produced a befuddling answer box and link from a right-wing website denouncing the Anti-Defamation League, a prominent Jewish advocacy group.
The same “Jews” answer also appeared in Google’s mobile searches.
News of the problematic answer prompted critical headlines early Friday, with major news sites taking aim at the ubiquitous search engine behemoth.
U.K’s The Guardian went with, “Who runs Hollywood? Google has an answer, but it’s not a good one.”
The New York Daily News opted with: “Who runs Hollywood? Google to fix search result that claims ‘Jews’ do,” and Re/code, a leading tech news site, warned its readers to “Please Don’t Ask Google ‘Who Runs Hollywood'”
“We worked quickly to remove this answer,” a Google spokesperson told TheWrap. “We assure you that the views expressed by such sites are not in any way endorsed by Google.”
In June, Google ran into similar problems when a search for “what happened to the dinosaurs” prompted a response from a Creationist website. That response is still on the site.