According to a piece by New York Times journalist Eric Pfanner, from June 27th, 2012, the search engine behemoth had a good day – as a lawsuit brought by several French groups that fight racism was dropped.
The French groups accused Google of breaking French ani-racism laws by using terms “juif” and “Jewish” in its autocomplete search function when people would search for certain public figures known to be Jewish, such as Fox News leader Rupert Murdoch.
The article never accuses Google of anything improper or illegal in any way. It just presents the information objectively, as it should.
Here is a link to the full article: here
Now the question to the casual reader should be, is that racist behavior? Well, let’s put it in context: If I pointed out that people were Jewish every time you brought up a person’s name, would that be racist? It would be insofar as making their religion and ethnic identity clear whether it may have been relevant or important.
By the same token, it would be akin to me pointing out to you that someone were black or Asian if you mentioned them to me…whether important to what you were doing or not. That kind of behavior on the part of a human could be considered racist.
Maybe Google was just trying to make its auto-complete function more intuitive to what people were/are searching, but shouldn’t one of the Earth’s largest and most powerful companies have a social responsibility to simply disavow practices that would immediately target historically oppressed minority groups through no fault of their own?