A harmless search on Google Images shows Nazi embellishments

On Google Images, a seemingly banal search highlights Nazi decorative objects.

Nazi decorative objects displayed on Google Images, including in France? This is the discovery of internet users on July 1, 2022 with a request that still turns out to be the most banal: “desk decorations” or “desk decoration” in French. And yet the first results are full of references to the Third Reich.

It was author Jason Pargin who published the case and took up the findings of another Internet user, Scott Alexander. ” Question: Go to Google image search and search for ‘desktop decorations’. Do you get a lot of Nazi stuff in the first results? “, he asks. Other Internet users confirm, in response to his tweet, to encounter these images.

We also received these images with the same query, including via Google France (google.fr) and not the international version of the search engine. It seems that only this request is affected: its French translation shows other images that have nothing to do with it. Even searching for the same terms, but in the majority, yields something else.

In a much more oriented search, such as “Nazi decoration object”, images related to the Third Reich also appear, but they are mainly taken from news articles dealing with matters of Nazism or to report cases of controversial auctions, whichever are in France or abroad.

We & # 39; ve contacted Google France to see if this issue has been reported to them – we’ll update as soon as we get a response from the company. The most likely hypothesis seems to be a lack of filtering in the search engine results or a circumvention of the algorithm to bring these images up to the top of the rankings.

A first return from Danny Sullivanone of Google’s search managers apologized and suggested the company’s next action: I am sorry about that. We agree that this is not what most people would expect or desire, although unfortunately there are apparently many such things that are described using these terms (which is what we are comparing). We will see how we can improve this situation. »

Google provides forms to request the removal of an image from search results and to report content that appears to be illegal. More generally, Google is required to respect the laws of the countries in which it operates, and the company states in its rules that content that is offensive or inciting hatred is restricted or prohibited, depending on the circumstances.

Recurring issues on various websites

Earlier, Google, which has been confronted with the topic of neo-Nazi products, after removing the controversial content, said: ” We do not allow ads or products sold on our platforms that display offensive content or promote hatred. We enforce these policies vigorously and take action when we find that they are being violated. »

Google is not the only company that has been nominated for this. In the past, Yahoo, Le Bon Coin and eBay have also been highlighted. The case on Yahoo was made particularly public at the time because it raised several legal issues and in different jurisdictions. The topic of access to and sale of Nazi artefacts comes up regularly in the news.

In France, one of the key texts often quoted is Article R645-1 of the Criminal Code. It states that wearing or publicly displaying a uniform, emblem or emblem reminiscent of those worn by members of Nazi Germany may be punished by a fine of EUR 1,500, convictions for community service, confiscation of the objects in question and various other penalties.

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