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Google News Bans SF Bay Area Indymedia Over Israel/Palestine Controversy
by ...
Wednesday Sep 3rd, 2003 12:55 PM
Contact Google News and let them know how you feel about this situation.

Around March 13 of this year, I discovered that San Francisco IMC was no longer being indexed by Google News. I wrote to them asking why, and a week later they replied that they only index sites which have editorial review. I explained to them that, while we accept all article submissions, we have an active editorial team that reviews articles for our Local/Global section. Volunteer programmers coded a new SF-IMC webpage exclusively for Google which allowed them to index only our reviewed articles.

On May 13, Google News again removed us from the index. According to Marissa Mayer, product manager for Google News, this action was taken because a few articles indexed included the term "zionazi," which they consider a "degrading hateful slur."

SF-IMC replied to Google News through email and even had a conference call with them, explaining that we have an editorial policy that specifically excludes hate speech, and that we agree "zionazi" could be considered hate speech.

In addition, we asked for details on how their search engine spidered this article at all, since our editorial team had not reviewed it and it shouldn't have been spidered by them. Around the same time, SF-IMC received anonymous emails from people claiming that they will "make sure" we are kicked out of Google News.

It was at this point that we stopped hearing back from Google News at all. We emailed and called them for weeks but got absolutely no reply.

Worse still, Google News seems to be a lot less vigilant when it comes to racist hate speech directed at Arabs and Muslims. For instance, at any time you can search for "islamofascist" at Google News and get a handful of results.

Even more disturbing, on September 2, I searched for "green beret iraq" which returned an article written by a soldier in Iraq that refers to "ragheads" throughout:

"Instead of being sitting ducks for the ragheads we now are going after the worthless pieces of fecal matter."

"Ragheads" and "islamofascists" is journalism according to Google News?

I believe that Google News needs to take responsibility for their seemingly one-sided tolerance of what is and is not "hate speech," acknowledge that Indymedia sites have active editorial teams who provide hours of volunteer labor to ensure that quality information is getting out, and work with IMCs around the world to get this information into Google News.

If Google News is nothing more than right-wing and corporate media, they aren't providing a worthwhile service. Indymedia is a global phenomenon with active groups in the US, Middle East, South America, Europe, Canada, Africa and Asia, all working to produce journalism that is otherwise censored or untouched by multinational corporate media.

I invite Google News to again contact SF-IMC at sf@indymedia.org so that we can work out this difference.

If you feel the same way, please contact Google News: news-feedback@google.com (general contact)
Please cc: sf@indymedia.org