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Google expunges search suggestion changing ‘Muslims report terrorism’ to ‘Muslims support terrorism’

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By John McCarthy, Opinion Editor

February 15, 2016 | 2 min read

A prominent Muslim blogger has revealed that a search for ‘Muslims report terrorism’ suggests instead ‘Muslims support terrorism’ causing some to criticise Google's search engine algorithm.

Hind Makk, a blogger who shares imagines of women in mosques throughout the world, unveiled the phenomenon during the weekend following comments from presidential candidate Hilary Clinton claiming that Muslims are ‘on the frontline of our defense’ against extremism.

A quick Google search, tweeted and widely shared, stated the contrary.

Beyond typos and misspellings, Google search is powered by the probability of keywords appearing together, with the sequences generated by previous searches entered by its many users.

Quartz argues that is not a faulty or bigoted algorithm that generated the controversial suggestion but the indexed searches of Google’s many users, in short, people are commonly enough searching (and publishing texts claiming) ‘Muslims support terrorism’.

Sparking the suggestion also was the close proximity of “report” to “support”.

Makki told Quarts: “I thought it was hilarious, but also sad and immediately screen capped it.

“I know it’s not Google’s ‘fault,’ but it goes to show just how many people online search for ‘Muslims support terrorism,’ though the reality on the ground is the opposite of that.”

Following the backlash Google erased the suggestion from its system, resulting in the company erasing a bias generated by its human users.

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