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Posted Thursday, April 15, 2004

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The Jerusalem Post

Thursday, April 15, 2004

Anti-Semitic site bumped off Google's top spot

A WORLD-WIDE effort has succeeded in bumping an anti-Semitic web site from its No. 1 rank on the popular search engine Google.

Utilizing a cyber-petition and some clever HTML programming, a diverse group of Jewish activists, academics and even a US senator managed to replace the top spot with Wikipedia's encyclopedia, which two weeks ago held no rank.
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David Irving comments:

A CORRESPONDENT writes to me Friday, April 16, 2004: "I ran a search on Google for 'Jew' today. is still number one (despite claims to the contrary) but Google has included a sort of disclaimer. However, the site itself is down (server not found). This may be significant. I also checked out This site has been 'cybersqatted' [i.e., the enemy has seized the domain name]. So much for freedom of speech.".

Google Inc. had come under fire for refusing to remove the site, Jew Watch, which appeared No. 1 out of 1.75 relevant entries when a search for "Jew" was conducted. Jew Watch's mandate is to keep a "close watch on Jewish communities and organizations worldwide."

Sergey Brin"I certainly am very offended by the site," said Sergey Brin, (left, in drag) who launched Google with fellow Stanford University graduate student Larry Page in the late 1990s, "but the objectivity of our rankings is one of our very important principles."

Angered by Google's response, New York-based real estate investor Steven Wienstock launched an online petition on his site Remove Jew Watch. The petition attracted over 82,000 signatures in just two weeks.

Many people signed the petition out of worry that any person looking to find out about Judaism would be offered choices such as the "Jewish Mind Control," "Jewish World Conspiracies," and "Jewish Banking and Financial Manipulations."

Under one of the categories, titled 'Revisionists - 6,000,000 Jews DID NOT DIE,' there are dozens of links to articles dedicated to Holocaust revisionism.

However, the investor-cum-internet crusader has also received multiple threats, hate mail and unwanted damage by computer hackers. Instead of showing the petition, Remove Jew Watch temporarily displayed pornographic images and the message "the lamest site ever."

Google said it would not be swayed by Weinstock's petition, noting that a web site's ranking was automatically determined by computer algorithms. "Sometimes subtleties of language cause anomalies to appear that cannot be predicted," said Brin.

"A search for "Jew" brings up one such unexpected result." The Anti-Defamation League, which monitors hate groups and anti-Semitic activity, backed Google's decision not to remove the hate site.

"The ranking of Jew Watch and other hate sites is in no way due to a conscious choice by Google, but solely is a result of this automated system of ranking," said the Anti-Defamation League in a March 30 letter on its website.

But US Senator (NY-D) Charles Schumer sent Google a letter asking that it change its algorithm to lower Jew Watch's ranking in the search results. In the end, the anti-Semitic site was done in by those same content-blind algorithms, which were exploited by using a popular technique called "Google bombing," said Daniel Sieradski, editor of Jew School, a Web site dedicated to Jewish fringe culture.

"I decided to issue a call to arms on my Web site, asking people to make a coordinated effort to link all Internet communications to Wikipedia using the word 'Jew,'" said Sieradski.

When done in a coordinated effort, such linking is known as a "Google Bomb." Although not illegal, the technique exploits Google's technology by artificially boosting the popularity of the targeted site.

"I can understand Google's concern that this method can be abused," said Sieradski. "I admit that we are abusing it; but frankly, I think it's for a good cause."

Others agree and have joined the fight to replace the anti-Semitic site. University of Manchester political science professor Norman Geras has included a link to Wikipedia "Jew" on his home page.

While Jew Watch is no longer the number one site that appears when a viewer conducts a Google search for "Jew," many critics of the site said they will not be happy until its completely eliminated from search engine results.

Copyright 2004 The Jerusalem Post

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