Last week, I posted this entry on a disgustingly anti-Semitic web site that just happened to be the top-ranked Google search result for the word "jew". At the time, I gave the management of Google the benefit of the doubt that their policy of non-interference prohibited any removal of the offending site or tampering with search rankings.
However, it came to light yesterday that Google does not always feel the need to abide by this policy:
For example, until February 2003, a user searching for a guide to the English city of Chester would have been presented with "Chester's guide to molesting young girls" as the second entry. After officials from Chester complained, Google removed the site.
This disparity in policy represents a severe breach of trust on the part of the company. While the campaign to drive the Wikipedia entry for "Jew" to the top result has been successful, the hate site still sits perched at number two. Far from being the hands-off administrators that they claim to be, Google's decision makers have entered into very dangerous terrain. By removing one offensive site while at the same time refusing to remove another, they have taken it upon themselves to determine what is "indecent" or "offensive."
While the company continues to take flack for the potential privacy implications of its proposed email system, the implications of this selective censorship are just as disturbing.