Google helps Islamophobia

This video from the USA says about itself:

$40 Million Spent To Spread Islamophobia

29 August 2011

The Center For American Progress investigated how much money has been spent on spreading fear of Islam and Muslims in the United States. Cenk Uygur and Ana Kasparian of The Young Turks discuss.

Source: here.

From Huffington Post in the USA today:

Google asks its employees to “Do the right thing.” At least, that’s what its revised 2015 motto states in an upgrade from the original company maxim, “Don’t be evil.” But when a user searches Google for information on Islam, the results often link to propaganda, anti-Muslim hate and outright lies. So begins Rowaida Abdelaziz’s story on how the world’s largest search engine spreads misinformation about Islam like a disease. Abdelaziz answered questions for Must Reads about how she came to write this important story.

What was the seed of this story?

The story really came about when I was Googling information on Islam and quickly realized how appalling the results were. The autofill suggestions in addition to the actual results were links filled with hate.

Then, it hit me. I was just one person who knew better, but what about the millions of other users, who when they see something about Muslims in the news and then try to search for more information themselves?

The amount of propaganda and misinformation lines up with the amount of “small” acts of hate that occur on a daily basis in the U.S. and has become so terrifyingly normal. When you think of the people who shout “go back to your country” or harass Muslim women in hijab, this is where they are getting their information from. It’s terrifying.

Over the course of your reporting what did you learn that most surprised you?

Just how easy and little it takes to feed a user so much wrong information. When I learned that 80 percent of users don’t make it past the first page on Google, let alone the first three links, it proved to me the dire need for factual information. We live in confusing times of fake news and this just makes it worst. Who knew the truth was so hard to make accessible?

What was the most challenging part of reporting, writing, or editing this piece?

The most challenging part is getting people to feel the same outrage as I do. This isn’t an issue with just Muslims, but it represents an overall problem with factual information on minorities as a whole.  It’s also challenging to work with large corporations like Google to take these issues seriously and work towards substantial change.

Did you learn anything that could help other writers or reporters?

Don’t diminish your emotions. As journalists, we’re usually taught to set aside our emotions. But this time, it was my frustration with the the lack of proper resources on Google search that led me to this report.

Is there anything else you want to add — anything you worry readers might have missed?

Often times we diminish the consequences of misinformation, not thinking about how dangerous it truly is. Despite what we hear, becoming radicalized over the internet is not just limited to ISIS sympathizers. It means people of all races, including white people, can consume propaganda and conspiracy theories that will push them to violence and even murder, like we have seen in Portland. If not that, then we are teaching children to hate other children who don’t look like them, and it all started over an online homework assignment. We are breeding a culture of normalized hate and violence.

Want to find out more about how Google spreads misinformation?



Nick and Sam

12 thoughts on “Google helps Islamophobia

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