Google is clamping down on websites that are deemed critical of Islam, by burying search results of articles ‘anti-Islamic’ in nature.
A search for terms such as ‘jihad’ and ‘shariah’ now returns results that Google deems “reputable” and “positive” towards the Muslim community.
Jihadwatch.org reports: “Reputable” according to whom? “Questionable” according to whom? Google is bowing to pressure from Muslim such as Omar Suleiman without considering whether those who are demanding that the search results be skewed in a particular direction might have an ulterior motive. Could it be that those who are pressuring Google want to conceal certain truths about Islam that they would prefer that non-Muslims not know?
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This is a real possibility, but of course Google executives would have to study Islam themselves in order to determine whether or not these Muslims who are pressuring them are misleading them, and that’s not going to happen. Still, they could have done a bit more due diligence, and made some efforts to determine whether those being tarred as “hate groups” really deserved the label, whether the Southern Poverty Law Center was really a reliable and objective arbiter of which groups were and weren’t “hate groups,” and whether the information that Google was suppressing was really inaccurate. Instead, Google seems to have swallowed uncritically everything Omar Suleiman and the others said.
Suleiman, however, still isn’t satisfied: “One leading activist in favor of Google modifying its results told Anadolu Agency he noticed the updated search results and thanked the company for its efforts but said ‘much still needs to be done.’” He claimed that Google has a responsibility to “combat ‘hate-filled Islamophobia’ similar to how they work to suppress extremist propaganda from groups like Daesh and al-Qaeda.”
This should have made Google executives stop and think. The Islamic State (Daesh) and al-Qaeda slaughter people gleefully and call openly for more mass murders. There is no firm evidence that anyone has ever been killed by a “hate-filled Islamophobe,” and the claim that Hamas-linked CAIR and the SPLC make in this article, that this supposed “Islamophobic” rhetoric has led to a rise in hate crimes against Muslims, is supported by not a scintilla of evidence. Suleiman is equating critical words with murderous deeds, and Google should have realized at that point that he had an agenda and wasn’t being honest.
“Suleiman said Google should differentiate between ‘criticism of Islam and hate-filled Islamophobia’, emphasizing the religion should not be infringed upon.”
That’s not clear. He apparently is saying that there is acceptable criticism of Islam that is not “hate-filled Islamophobia,” but if that is so, then the religion can be “infringed upon,” at least by this legitimate criticism, no? Or if the claim that Islam must not be “infringed upon” means that it cannot be criticized, why is that so of Islam but not any other religion?
Suleiman says: “I don’t think Google has a responsibility to portray Muslims positively. I think Google has a responsibility to weed out fear-mongering and hate groups but I don’t want Google to silence critique of Islam, or critique of Muslims.”
The problem with this is that neither Suleiman, nor Hamas-linked CAIR, nor anyone else who has ever said that there was a distinction between legitimate criticism of Islam and “hate-filled Islamophobia” has ever identified anyone he thinks is a legitimate critic of Islam who is not “Islamophobic.” Over 16 books now, as well as thousands of articles and over 45,000 blog posts, I have attempted to present a reasonable, documented, fair and accurate criticism of Islam and explanation of the jihad doctrine. Nevertheless, I’ve been tarred as a purveyor of “hate-filled Islamophobia” by groups and individuals that have never given my work a fair hearing, but have read it only to search of gotcha!-quotes they could wrench away from their obvious benign meaning in order to claim I was saying something hateful. And this isn’t just me — this happens to anyone and everyone who dares to utter a critical word about Islam or jihad, wherever they are on the political spectrum.
This experience, reinforced countless times over a decade and a half, makes me extremely skeptical when Omar Suleiman says that he doesn’t want Google to silence critique of Islam. If he could produce some critique of Islam that he approved of, my skepticism might lessen. But he won’t, and can’t. It seems much more likely that he pressured Google to skew its results so as to deep-six criticism of Islam, but knowing that he couldn’t tell them that he was trying to bring Google into line with Sharia blasphemy laws forbidding criticism of Islam, he told them instead that he wasn’t against criticism of Islam as such, but only against “hate-filled Islamophobia.”
Mr. Suleiman, if you and your colleagues hadn’t spent years tarring rational criticism of Islam that was accurate and presented in good faith as “hate-filled Islamophobia,” I might have believed you. But as one of your primary victims, I don’t.
“US Muslim groups welcome changes to Google results,” by Michael Hernandez, Anadolu Agency, July 26, 2017:
Queries about Islam and Muslims on the world’s largest search engine have been updated amid public pressure to tamp down alleged disinformation from hate groups.
However, activists who have worked to bring about the changes say more work remains.
In the past, users on Google seeking information about the religion or its adherents would be presented prominently with what many criticized as propaganda from hate groups.
That has recently changed.
Google’s first page results for searches of terms such as “jihad”, “shariah” and “taqiyya” now return mostly reputable explanations of the Islamic concepts. Taqiyya, which describes the circumstances under which a Muslim can conceal their belief in the face of persecution, is the sole term to feature a questionable website on the first page of results.
Google did not confirm to Anadolu Agency the changes but said it is constantly updating its algorithms.
The search giant referred the agency to a recent blog post in which it said it was working to push back on what it called “offensive or clearly misleading content”.
“To help prevent the spread of such content for this subset of queries, we’ve improved our evaluation methods and made algorithmic updates to surface more authoritative content,” it said.
One leading activist in favor of Google modifying its results told Anadolu Agency he noticed the updated search results and thanked the company for its efforts but said “much still needs to be done”.
Imam Omar Suleiman, who has been at the forefront of efforts to combat misleading information about his faith on the web, argued that Google and companies like it have a responsibility to combat “hate-filled Islamophobia” similar to how they work to suppress extremist propaganda from groups like Daesh and al-Qaeda.
Suleiman said Google should differentiate between “criticism of Islam and hate-filled Islamophobia”, emphasizing the religion should not be infringed upon.
“Google does not need to silence criticism of Islam and honest discussions about Islam, but heavily funded hate groups that are able to work the SEOs to get their websites showing up on the first, second page – I think that’s deeply problematic,” the popular imam said, referring to search engine optimization — the way in which websites are able to improve their placement in search engine results.
The task of sorting out legitimate criticism or debate about Islam from misleading information will not be easy, particularly in societies that value freedom of speech — a fact Suleiman, who is the founder and president of the Yaqeen Institute for Islamic Research, acknowledged.
Google told Anadolu Agency it does not seek to remove content from its platform simply because it is unsavory or unpopular, but does its best to prevent hate speech from appearing.
One way it is working to improve on the effort is by providing users with a mechanism in autofill suggestions that would allow users to alert the company when an offensive term appears.
Amid a nationwide increase in hate crimes targeting Muslims, the effort to combat misinformation is more imperative than ever, Muslim group said.
Hate crimes against Muslims
The Council on American-Islamic Relations, the U.S.’s largest Muslim advocacy group, said it tracked a 584 percent increase in anti-Muslim hate crimes from 2014 to 2016.
The group is not the only one to find such numbers. The Southern Poverty Law Center tracks hate incidents and groups in the U.S. and said it found hate groups increasing in number for the second consecutive year in 2016, fueled largely by a near-tripling of anti-Muslim groups.
“The growth has been accompanied by a rash of crimes targeting Muslims,” the center said in its annual report.
Information people receive from a variety of sources — television, radio and the Internet — no doubt plays a role in fomenting hatred among some of those who perpetrate attacks but could also be used to stop them.
“We are seeing a rise in hate crimes towards Muslims, and there is a direct connection between this demonization of Islam and Muslims and the hate crimes that are being perpetuated against Muslims in the United States,” Suleiman said.
Still, he maintained that such voices should not be censored but “should not be featured prominently as authoritative voices.”
Suleiman added: “I don’t think Google has a responsibility to portray Muslims positively. I think Google has a responsibility to weed out fear-mongering and hate groups but I don’t want Google to silence critique of Islam, or critique of Muslims…
Yes, you do.