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Censorship Government Businesses Google The Internet Politics

Google Censors Abu Ghraib Images [updated] 731

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the smell-the-scent-of-karl-rove dept.
Mihg writes "Try searching Google Images for abu ghraib, lynndie england, or Lynndie's boyfriend charles graner and note how you don't get any pictures of US soldiers torturing Iraqi prisoners of war. Now try it with some of their competitors, like AltaVista, Lycos, or Yahoo!. Google used to be able to find them, as is discussed in this AnandTech forum thread." I'm guessing that this is another case of our administration confusing "National Security" with "Politically Undesirable". Update: 11/07 20:18 GMT by P : Google has a reasonable explanation.
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Google Censors Abu Ghraib Images [updated]

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  • You're guessing? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 07, 2004 @12:20PM (#10746607)
    If that were the case, why would they show up in other American search engines? Ever consider that Google is a business and has the right to choose what they want to include themselves?
    • by Izago909 (637084) * <tauisgod@@@gmail...com> on Sunday November 07, 2004 @12:22PM (#10746616)
      If google now relies on self censorship to promote their company image, then they can kiss their #1 ranked ass goodbye.
      • by Anonymous Coward
        They've always edited their index and they say it all over the place. The have the right to choose what they want and what they don't want showing up in their search engine. That's why people that sue them over being exluded or ranked poorly don't have a case.

        And guess what... sometimes Google's index gets screwed up! One time, Google excluded THEMSELVES from their index!
        • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 07, 2004 @12:39PM (#10746749)
          The have the right to choose what they want and what they don't want showing up in their search engine.
          Yes, but if they start getting a reputation for filtering certain subjects, some people are going to start switching to other search engines. I don't think anyone said they don't have a right, only that its not a good idea.
        • by SirChive (229195)
          By the same logic the old men who rule China have a "right" to only allow their people a highly censored view of the outside world. Hey, they own the power so they can do what they want, right?

          But I don't think that is how we want to view public media in this country. Businesses do not have complete freedom to censor and exclude simply because they own the media. We knew that Google manipulated their index in order to make money but it's a very different if they doing it to forward a certain political view
        • Re:You're guessing? (Score:5, Informative)

          by Madcapjack (635982) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @01:55PM (#10747245)
          I'll quote from Google's own website regarding romoval of pages from its search results:

          "Google views the quality of its search results as an extremely important priority. Therefore, Google stops indexing the pages on your site only at the request of the webmaster who is responsible for those pages or as required by law. This policy is necessary to ensure that pages are not inappropriately removed from our index. Since Google is committed to providing thorough and unbiased search results for our users, we cannot participate in the practice of censoring information on the world wide web." source [google.com]

      • Re:You're guessing? (Score:3, Interesting)

        by SiliconJesus (1407) *
        They generally rely on google rankings (their proprietary code) in order to do this effectively.

        If someone googlebombed them (google search for "Litigious Bastards" [google.com]), I would assume it is possible to unrank images just as it is possible to unrank webpages.
      • Re:You're guessing? (Score:3, Interesting)

        by eatmadust (740035)
        this [google-watch.org] this might explain a lot.
        Especially the Floyd/Mark Kvamme and Bush relationship could explain why those images were removed.
    • by Ayaress (662020) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @12:27PM (#10746651) Journal
      I'd say things are a bit closer to what the article says than you think, but you're on the right track - google gives in to almost any pressure in a heartbeat. Google's always been perfectly willing to throw up the "This search has items removed which may be in violation of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act" things in results. I've been getting them more and more often on various things. If you get creative with your search terms, you can come up with a lot of different messages about why some results were omitted from a search. I've never seen any of that on other search engines.
      • Re:You're guessing? (Score:3, Interesting)

        by SiliconJesus (1407) *
        Google is playing the game safer than most of the internet (/. included), which is probably a smarter move that just claiming "I have no control over the content" when in reality they do (as proven by /.'s removal of posts in the past due to litigation from Microsoft).
        • by h4rm0ny (722443) * on Sunday November 07, 2004 @12:42PM (#10746773) Journal

          Google is playing the game safer than most of the internet

          The implication of what you've just said is that it would be risky for Google to help people find this information. And the implication of THAT is that if you criticise the Government you're going to get stomped.

          The number of people who read the parent post and didn't think there was something inherantly flawed in the reasoning shows how generally accepted this viewpoint is.

          And of course, they may well be right, but how far has society fallen if they are?
          • by ScrewMaster (602015)
            Well, the free speech protections in the Constitution don't apply to private organizations (a lot of Slashdot posts seem unclear on that point) so Google is certainly free to censor its results any way it cares to, and any other individual or private organization can threaten Google any way it wants to under the DMCA. What that may due to Google's success as a commercial entity is another story, and how Google responds to such pressure is up to it. However, if the government is involved at any level in de
          • by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Sunday November 07, 2004 @02:14PM (#10747356)
            And the implication of THAT is that if you criticise the Government you're going to get stomped.
            This isn't criticism of the government. This is about actual pictures taken of actual events.

            Google is now self-censoring factual information.

            Not someone's opinion or belief or criticism. Factual information.

            I could, possibly, understand self-censoring opinion and criticism if based upon your beliefs. Why rely upon google to index people's insane rants and conspiracy theories?

            But when it comes to self-censoring links to actual pictures of actual events, particularly ones that are of such political significance, that's way over the line.
      • Re:You're guessing? (Score:5, Informative)

        by aacool (700143) <aamanlamba2gmail,com> on Sunday November 07, 2004 @12:35PM (#10746721) Journal
        If you don't know already, you can track most takedown notices at http://www.chillingeffects.org/ [chillingeffects.org]. A search for google there brings back a lot of results.

        An interesting case is booble.com - sent a takedown notice by google [booble.com] and now reopened as tauntedbytatas.com

    • by rastakid (648791) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @12:28PM (#10746663) Homepage Journal
      Ever consider that Google is a business and has the right to choose what they want to include themselves?

      Jup, that's right. But keep in mind that the consumer has also a right: the right to choose. So, if Google does censor its spider index, the consumer has the right to know that and based on that information may choose to continue using Google, or may start using another search engine.
      Remember that Google has only admitted censoring its index in the past after someone said 'Hey, I can't find page "blabla" using Google'. It would be better if they announced censoring on the forehand.
    • -1, Idiotic. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Wakko Warner (324) * on Sunday November 07, 2004 @12:32PM (#10746697) Homepage Journal
      Hello? Google is an information provider. What they're doing, if they're doing it, is knowingly and willfully blocking access to information, simply because that information happens to be controversial.

      Would you like it if your doctor only told you what was right with your body?

      Idiot.

      - A.P.
      • Re:-1, Idiotic. (Score:3, Interesting)

        by cicho (45472)
        The information they're blocking is not even controversial. These are well-documented facts, the images are evidence, they're raw data. Google is blanking out portions of _history_.

        I've read about the many perceived problems with Google before and ignored them because Google is free to do whatever they want yadda yadda. But this is giving me a major pause.
    • by dogfart (601976) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @12:36PM (#10746728) Homepage Journal
      And as a business they are still subject to political pressure. What the government can't block overtly, they can get their surrogates in the private sector to block with a little "persuasion". Thus the government can make it very difficult for the public to find images (or other information) that is unfavorable to the government. The net result is the same, without all the nastiness associated with direct government censorship.

      Yes, I know that the average Slashdot reader can find these images elsewhere. The average just-barely-computer-literate AOL user doesn't know this, doesn't want to make the effort, or just assumes if Google doesn't have it then there is something wrong with having these images available.

    • And that we have a right to boycott Google?

      Why are there so many apologists for those at the top of the hierarchy? That is what I want to know. Are you masochists? Authority lovers? Idolizers of success?
  • by h4rm0ny (722443) * on Sunday November 07, 2004 @12:21PM (#10746611) Journal

    Well, I've just tried this with each of the listed search engines and it does appear to be correct for the first five pages that Google returns.

    That's not good. I don't want a search engine deciding what I have access to. And know doubt this thread will turn into a troll-fest about the American invasion of Iraq and whether people are better off or not under US rule rather than Saddam, but surely neither side of the argument thinks we'll benefit from hiding the truth. That can only benefit those in the US administration.

    And you can be sure that this will be picked up by the Arab world and will look bad on the US and Western Europe.
    • Google just sucks (Score:5, Informative)

      by blamanj (253811) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @12:33PM (#10746705)
      Sorry, conspiricy theorists. There's a simpler answer, and that's that Google isn't the right tool for the job. Use Yahoo [yahoo.com] or Picsearch [picsearch.com].

      To verify this, try the following search "Obama convention". You'll get hits on Yahoo and Picsearch, but not Google. Goolge image search simply isn't timely. Their image index cycle appears to be about six months, and the Abu Ghraib pictures in (I think) around June.

      If Google were truly censoring, they'd censor the text search too, and you can easily find the pictures using the text search.
      • by Neophytus (642863) * on Sunday November 07, 2004 @12:43PM (#10746786)
        Perhaps then they should step up their renewal cycle, at least when indexing new pages into their database. With 20/20 hindsight it's an obvious problem.
      • by Mornelithe (83633)
        Shhh.

        Google is getting very big, and they just became a publicly traded company. That means it's becoming fashionable (on Slashdot) to lambast Google based on whatever the conspiracy theory of the day is. Obivously they're censoring, and we should all complain about how news sources have a responsibility to report unbiased versions of the news and both sides of the story. Never mind that Google doesn't really produce news reports, and that there's no such thing as an unbiased news source that reports all s
      • by hikerhat (678157) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @01:01PM (#10746912)
        Hmm. But if you search for barack obama you do get hits. Including his pic at the Illinois state senate web site, which must have only been updated a few days ago.
        • Re:Google just sucks (Score:5, Informative)

          by blamanj (253811) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @01:11PM (#10746984)
          Yes, but that has an explanation, too. News images rotate in on a temporary basis from the "News" secton. You can find images from "Bush wins election 2004" as well (though not "Kerry concedes", but they may well disappear by December.
          • by Anonymous Coward
            That would explain EXACTLY the reason the prison images were available when the scandal was covered heavily in the news. Images was simply returning results from the News section which had them in the index. Now they've expired from the news index and won't reappear in the image index until their infrequent update.
      • by radtea (464814)

        What part of "Google used to be able to find them" don't you understand?

        --Tom
    • And you can be sure that this will be picked up by the Arab world and will look bad on the US and Western Europe.

      And if there's one thing we here in the U.S. really, really hate, it's to look bad in the Arab world.

      I can just hear the outcry as it trumpets across our waving waves of grain, echoing from our mountains, skimming across from sea to shining sea: "Google is censoring Abu Graib pics! How will we ever recover our prestige?!"
      • Arab world (Score:4, Insightful)

        by gaijin99 (143693) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @12:59PM (#10746896) Journal
        And if there's one thing we here in the U.S. really, really hate, it's to look bad in the Arab world
        And people wonder why there is widespread doubt that the US entered Iraq with the intent of "liberating" the Iraqi people...

        War is not about killing your enemies, every strategist from Sun Tsu to Carl von Clausewitz to the modern Pentagon made, and makes, that point. War is about convincing your enemies to surrender. Cowing them through sheer military might is not enough, that's what people mean when they talk about "winning the peace". Ask yourself why the guerillas in Iraq have so much support, then look at the US shutting down a newspaper, Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay, etc. I think its pretty damn important that we not look bad to the Arab world.

    • by Xyrus (755017)
      Tried just entering: "torute pictures". One of the first links is "The Memory Hole" with all the Iraqi torture you wanna see.

      ~X~
      "Torture, the American Way."
    • by chrisd (1457) * <chrisd@dibona.com> on Sunday November 07, 2004 @03:43PM (#10747922) Homepage
      This is indeed an index aging issue. It sucks and we're sorry it sucks, but it isn't more than that.

      Full post here: with a note from Sergey about this [slashdot.org]

      Chris

  • And Yet.. (Score:5, Funny)

    by Rosyna (80334) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @12:21PM (#10746612) Homepage
    ... if I do a google image search for "goatse" I get all kinds of nasty results. Certainly those should be blocked as well. They are clearly a threat to national security.
  • by garcia (6573) * on Sunday November 07, 2004 @12:21PM (#10746613) Homepage
    I'm guesing that this is another case of our administration confusing "National Security" with "Politically Undesirable".

    Then why do the other search engines still carry it? It seems like Google has something confused and not the government.
    • Then why do the other search engines still carry it? It seems like Google has something confused and not the government.

      If past performance is any indication, I'd suggest "incompetence."

      :w
    • Probable answer (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Rayonic (462789)
      Most likely, Google was trying to make the Abu Gharib images recognized by their "SafeSearch" feature. Which is to say, if you have SafeSearch turned on, those somewhat explicit images wouldn't display (as I'm sure they did before, as none of the normal keywords would have applied).

      But somebody screwed up, and now they're blocked even if you have SafeSearch turned off. I'd expect this to be fixed soon.
    • Because if you cleanse Google, you've already covered what percentage of all search engine hits? 80? 80 percent? If it's not on Google, it won't be found my most people.
  • At least... (Score:3, Funny)

    by The-Bus (138060) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @12:22PM (#10746621)
    Luckily, everyone can still "Do a Lynndie" [badgas.co.uk] to their heart's content.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 07, 2004 @12:23PM (#10746623)
    http://www.deviantart.com/deviation/11504468/ [deviantart.com]

    A small coloring book of images from the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

    What do you know about Abu Ghraib? What do you know about coloring books? What do you know about teaching conformity? About desensitization? About media and artist exploitation of suffering for financial gain. This swell coloring book wraps all that and more into nine pages that you can color yourself!
  • Freedom (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Lao-Tzu (12740) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @12:24PM (#10746629) Homepage
    You know, freedom goes both ways - you have the right to see these images, but Google has the right to censor their own content.

    "It's good to know that I should use Google's competitors to search for this type of thing, in case Google is holding back relevant results." - That statement makes this seem like a bad business decision.
    • Re:Freedom (Score:3, Insightful)

      by DeltaBlaster (300386) *
      You know, freedom goes both ways - you have the right to see these images, but Google has the right to censor their own content.

      Sure they have the right to, but is it a good idea? Of course not. We have the right.ability to just use another search engine if they are seceretly restricting information. Either way, it's still a pretty crappy thing to do.
    • Re:Freedom (Score:5, Interesting)

      by vrimj (750402) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @12:34PM (#10746713)
      Of course Google can censor what they like, but it is approprate to find such instances and call them on it. Censorship calls in to question Googles reliablity as an information provider and thus need to be reported on and highlighted.

      I do not think anyone is saying they can't do this, they are only pointing out that as customers of Googles service they find it disturbing
  • by qbzzt (11136) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @12:24PM (#10746630)
    I'm guesing that this is another case of our administration confusing "National Security" with "Politically Undesirable".

    Last time I checked, Google was a private company. It's very easy to fling accusations of censorship in a free society, but don't you think you need something more than "a private company wouldn't provide me the information"?

    Bye
    • by Ph33r th3 g(O)at (592622) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @12:33PM (#10746703)
      Google is publically traded and in a position of trust. They're free to edit their results, but such editing should be done in an environment of full disclosure. Instead, they're acting as 1984's Ministry of Truth, making information disappear for a large segment of the population that isn't savvy enough to look for it elsewhere.
    • This is the new Amerika -

      Private companies chisel away at all of the freedoms and protections that have been won throughout history. Sheep that we are, we sign them all away with the stroke a pen without even reading the "agreement". (Employment, service agreements, product purchases, money lending, etc)
      In some cases all you need to do is "open the packaging" to implicitly agree with their version of the law.

      With the media, you don't even sign anything. They just show us whatever they want us to see.

      Thes
      • by exp(pi*sqrt(163)) (613870) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @01:11PM (#10746983) Journal
        Exactly. Ultimately all functions of the government will be replaced by private enterprise. When this happens we'll lose all of our freedoms. Constitution? What constitution? It only serves to limit the powers of government. But there are no such checks on the power of corporations. And everyone will live in denial. Censorship? How can there be censorship, there's no government to do it. It'll be called self-censorship instead and will be accepted by everyone.
    • by fireboy1919 (257783) <rustyp AT freeshell DOT org> on Sunday November 07, 2004 @12:49PM (#10746836) Homepage Journal
      Yeah, so is CNN. But if, for example, CNN failed to cover the 9/11 story as it happened claiming it would affect confidence in our nation, I'd be a bit upset.

      Google, like CNN, is a news source. It's integrity is based upon its ability to report what it has found without bias. Granted, CNN hasn't got a lot of integrity left in this area, but I'd expect that if something REALLY major happens, they'd report it to me.

      In my mind, previously, google had a lot of integrity: I think they've been doing accurate search stuff without bias for a long time. They seem a bit less moral now. Let's hope they don't end up selling all their morals.
    • Guess what? When a private company feels like it has to deny access to information that is inconvenient to the government, the difference is minimal. The fact is that these images used to be among the top returned by google and yet now they mysteriously do not exist anymore. We also know that Google willingly censors the net for China, apparently they are all too willing to do it on behalf of Bush's new "I have political capital an intend to spend it" America.
  • Ads (Score:5, Funny)

    by mckniglj (233845) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @12:24PM (#10746632)
    I love slashdot. Under 'related links', there's a link for 'Best deals: Censorship' through PriceGrabber.

    Sorry, it made me laugh.
  • by palutke (58340) * on Sunday November 07, 2004 @12:27PM (#10746653)
    I'm guesing that this is another case of our administration confusing "National Security" with "Politically Undesirable".

    No, somebody in Google's 'risk management' department probably decided that it would be a prudent step to avoid bad publicity or offending shareholders. The minute Google went public, their primary responsibility became looking after the best interests of their shareholders, not being an impartial index of internet sites.

  • Images Index Old (Score:5, Insightful)

    by christowang (590054) <.moc.ecisys. .ta. .sirhc.> on Sunday November 07, 2004 @12:28PM (#10746661) Homepage
    I've found the Google Image Index to be quite old. For instance if you type in 'world series', you get images of 2002 and before. The Red Sox are stilled cursed.

    I think it's possible that no images have been indexed of the prisoners over the sensoring theory.

    Type in 'abu ghraib images' in the Web search and the first page that comes up is detailed images of the abuse.
    • Re:Images Index Old (Score:5, Informative)

      by the_quark (101253) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @02:01PM (#10747285) Homepage
      I think this hits it on the head - Images isn't updated very often. Check out, for example, pictures of the toddler who was rescued from a well a week ago [cbsnews.com]. A regular Google search for Jermere McMillan photo [google.com] returns 117 results, the first of which has a picture. An image search for Jermere McMillan [google.com] returns no result. Although it's hard to imagine what the Bush administration's angle is on supressing that picture.

      Even more clearly that this is not a sinister Bush /Rove plot: Ashley Faulkner is a girl whose mother died on September 11, 2001. There is a recently famous picture of George Bush giving Ashley a hug [about.com] that a Bush-friendly 527 made into a political ad. This picture has been known about for some time; the picture was taken at the beginning of May and was reported on at the time. It's certainly had time to propagate through the net: A google search for Ashley Faulkner Bush photo [google.com] returns 4290 results, the first few of which all include the picture. A Google image search for Ashley Faulkner Bush [google.com] returns no images. Explain to me again how propagating this image would be "Politcally Undesirable" for the Bush administration.

      Rob just speculating this is government malfeasance is ridiculous. There is no evidence to support his positiona and no evidence to even suggest it. Slashdot should post a conspicious retraction to this groundless acusation. The story here isn't "Bush represses Google," it's "Google's image index isn't updated very often." Stick to reporting the news, please, not your tired conspiracy theories!
  • www.ogrish.com (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dummkopf (538393) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @12:32PM (#10746693) Homepage
    if you want completely uncensored pictures and movies from the atrocities happenening due to poor policymaking of a certain world power you should look at www.ogrish.com [ogrish.com]. while i have to admit that the framework is rather tasteless, if you really want to get an idea of what atrocoties are (besides the fact of the existence of such webpages) you should definitely have a look. and if you intend to vote for another shrub in the future, you should have a look and think twice...
  • by Teun (17872) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @12:33PM (#10746702) Homepage
    However good Google might be, this is just a proof of why not to trust a single source.

    Because we've started to see Google as The Best, this is The Best proof of why not to trust a single source.

    We all know that Google has a sort of Moral Conduct Policy (like no gun advertising) but maybe they should make it optional like with is the SafeSearch option to limit the exposure to, of all thing, people in their natural state.

    At least their wish for Moral Conduct should make them set up an easily accessible list of things they have 'banned', be it on request or following their own standards.

  • Google News (Score:3, Interesting)

    by FiReaNGeL (312636) <fireang3l&hotmail,com> on Sunday November 07, 2004 @12:37PM (#10746738) Homepage
    If this is true, it makes me think about using Google News as my #1 information source. I realize that other news network DO filter information, too, but it my mind, Google wasn't in this kind of stuff (at least, outside China).

    Their news service already report a link to this thread under the title "Google Censors Abu Ghraib Images" [google.ca]. Now let's see if it'll remain there...
  • It is about time! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mat catastrophe (105256) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @12:40PM (#10746762) Homepage

    I tried to submit this as an AskSlashdot feature on where to turn when Google's policies censor searches you want weeks ago. Thanks for finally running something on this.

    I think it is high time that people woke up to what google is doing out there. We can talk a big game about google "being a privately held company" and "freedom to do what they want" and whatnot, but it is seriously frightening to me exactly what it is that they want to do to the internet, especially when they are not too terribly forthcoming about what they want.

    Do any of you all use an alternate search engine? If so, post it and let us all get away from google. We claim that decentralized data is what we love the internet for, yet we all clamor to a single search engine for that data. It's incongruous and seemingly dissonant to do this.

  • by krunk7 (748055) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @12:41PM (#10746767)
    Second hit on google web search for abu ghraib:

    Abu Ghraib Photo's [antiwar.com]

    Now, it is odd that their image gallery isn't equally pertinant, but I think it's more of a reflection on google having a poor image search engine or prehaps poorly maintained index....not some grand censorship conspiracy theory.

  • by jafuser (112236) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @12:49PM (#10746832)
    I've read that the Google image index is only done twice a year. This also explains why so many of the images you find there are on pages that don't exist anymore -- Google image search has the worst reputation I've seen for this problem.

    For example, try searching on Red Sox, and you'll see nothing about the world series.

    Try searching on presidential debates and you'll get no pictures from the Bush/Kerry debates.

    I think it's probably safe to say it's just image crawler lazyness more than a conspiracy.
  • by ichthus (72442) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @01:08PM (#10746967) Homepage
    Sure, Taco. It MUST be that evil Bush administration. Google has no autonomy, but the other search engines do. Think about it.

    Once again, your unfounded political bias shines through as total ignorance.

  • Understanding Google (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Cokelee (585232) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @01:24PM (#10747066)

    Why Politics Don't Belong on Slashdot, And other useful info . . . :-P

    First off, Google is _very_ different from other search engines. They want to separate out blog content from other websites. They also put national news articles (that usually decay in a month or so) in news.google.com, and they allow users to rate websites and add their input in a magical way to PageRank. Given all of this I do not believe this could be called political as implied by the editor or censorship (since it is impossible for a private company to actually be involved in censorship). Such statements imply that Google News would also not have stories on the events that occurred in the prison, since they don't want you to know about it. I think you might be seeing the results of people looking at the sites (that have the GoogleToolbar) and rating them poorly. Moreoever, the results shown on yahoo are from news services--these things may be searched from news.google.com. Somehow a plethora of results come up there [google.com].

    This brings me to my subtitle: Politics don't belong on Slashdot. No one is going to get rid of the section, and even if they did, it doesn't matter now. The entire site is now an acceptable place to insert your political opinions without actually analyzing a situation. This doesn't lead to more coherent discussion, or in this case even restraint on the part of the editor to develop a conspiracy theory in one line (without having to even develop it because so many people are already have the same mindset that they're ready to jump on anything they can). From now on, politics will be acceptable discussion on Slashdot in any topic, and for that reason I think the site's technical discussion over time may be greatly diluted.

    This is neither a death wish, nor a threat to stop reading Slashdot. Slashdot may stay a good news site, but it's community is being threatened.

    -Adam Colclough

  • No Censorship Here (Score:3, Informative)

    by stevemm81 (203868) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @02:04PM (#10747296) Homepage
    It seems like these comments make it pretty clear that there is no censorship at Google.

    The pictures used to be there because Google Image Search updates about every 6 months and includes pictures from Google News. The Abu Ghraib pics aren't in Google News anymore, and they're not 6 months old, so don't expect to find them on Google Image Search.

    Same thing with World Series, Obama, etc. Someone mentioned seeing Obama Senate pics, but they're wrong: search for Barack Obama and get pictures of him in the State Senate.

    The idea that Google would just cave to a Bush Administration request to block searches for Abu Ghraib is ludicrous. Google has no reason to give in. Also, notice when the linked forum discussion at AnandTech began. In October, a month before the election. The Bush Administration would not have risked the bad publicity of attempting to censor a high-profile news source like Google for such a pointless task right before an election. These pictures are widely available and have already been seen by anyone who might be interested in them, so attempting to restrict access then would only have hurt both Bush and Google.

    Do a regular Google search for Abu Ghraib pictures. Notice that all the links, to sites like antiwar.com, contain exactly what you'd expect. Moreover, Google News even pops up at the top, linking to this Slashdot story. Now, if Google were interested in censorship, wouldn't it be a simple matter for them to tell their news-accumulating bots to flag all stories involving their name and words like "censorship" for a human to review before posting them?
  • by chrisd (1457) * <chrisd@dibona.com> on Sunday November 07, 2004 @02:58PM (#10747654) Homepage
    Hi All,

    Sergey asked me to pass this on:

    • In short, There is no censorship here. We are embarassed that our image index is not updated as frequently as it should be. Expect a refresh in the near future.

      In the meantime, you can just search on Google Web Search for [abu graib photos] [abu graib photos] [google.com] to get plenty of what you are looking for.

    From me:

    Please don't ascribe some dating issues on images to some political motive, we take this kind of stuff very seriously. We have to comply with the law, but there is no law yet on the books reguiring that companies in the United States take down pictures that might be embarassing ot the current administration.

    Chris DiBona

    • That seems a VERY unlikely explanation as they WERE available. That and the story is QUITE OLD.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 07, 2004 @04:27PM (#10748178)
      Yea, right, sure.

      Up to date is one thing. Having ALL the more famous photos in question NOT show up in a search is another.

      Try again.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 07, 2004 @04:49PM (#10748394)
      Your image index is not updated as frequently as it should be, eh? Then why do searches for events such as "halloween 2004" -- which happened much more recently than the prison abuse -- show up just fine?
      halloween 2004 [google.com]
      We take this kind of stuff very seriously too, you know.
      • by chrisd (1457) * <chrisd@dibona.com> on Sunday November 07, 2004 @05:19PM (#10748642) Homepage
        As others noted, this is a view into the different ways that google schedules the crawl. Some sites get crawled more often than others, and some images are updated faster than others. And some stay in the index longer. News ones (I think) transit through the index perhaps faster than they should. I'm really going outside my level of expertise here though, So I won't go on about this too much, but I assure you that it isn't some bush administration/google partisan trickey.

        Chris DiBona

    • by Dachannien (617929) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @06:21PM (#10749134)
      For all the people who for whatever reason still don't believe you, you might also point out that this search [google.com] still results in over 100 hits.

    • by ESqVIP (782999) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @07:35PM (#10749713)
      Well, I'm buying it.

      My main reason is that when I do a Google Images search, the number of 404s I get when trying to see the actual pictures is fairly high; depending on the search, I think I already got over 50% broken links.

      So, the indication that Google Images' index is outdated does make sense to me. Just like the guy that reported his Morgan Webb picture is still indexed "7 months after it was removed".

      Now moving on, I'll happily wait for this update, so the image search gets useful again and returns more than a bunch of outdated links.

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