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Google Censors Abu Ghraib Images [updated] 731

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 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.
  • by garcia ( 6573 ) * on Sunday November 07, 2004 @12:21PM (#10746613)
    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.
  • by Izago909 ( 637084 ) * <tauisgod AT gmail DOT 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.
  • Double Standard (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 07, 2004 @12:22PM (#10746618)
    Can you imagine if China did this?

    You would all be talking about the evil commies and evil chinamens who care not for freedom!

  • by gl4ss ( 559668 ) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @12:23PM (#10746625) Homepage Journal
    because google is a *bend over* and has demonstrated that it's easy for it to switch content retrieved based on where you are...

  • 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.
  • 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"?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 07, 2004 @12:25PM (#10746635)
    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!
  • Another spin.. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by nuclear305 ( 674185 ) * on Sunday November 07, 2004 @12:26PM (#10746646)
    "I'm guesing that this is another case of our administration confusing "National Security" with "Politically Undesirable"."

    I'm going to play devil's advocate here...if you were those prisoners would you want humiliating images of you readily available to the world? I can't imagine anyone saying "Yea, that would be great! Now the world can see what happened to me!"

    I can't speak as to why Google is censoring the images, IF they really are...but I can think of several reasons to do so that have nothing to do with Big Brother conspiracies.
  • 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.
  • 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.

  • by Baldrson ( 78598 ) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @12:27PM (#10746655) Homepage Journal
    There are hundreds of thousands if not millions of acts of racist sexual sadism [hrw.org] in US prisons every year and you don't see expose pictures of those on any search engine anywhere.

    The sexual sadism of Abu Ghraib is insignificant by comparison and may even be seen as a symptom of the US penal system's standards.

    Google is merely trying to keep things in perspective.

  • Images Index Old (Score:5, Insightful)

    by christowang ( 590054 ) <chris.sysice@com> 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.
  • 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.
  • Re:Flamebait (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Ph33r th3 g(O)at ( 592622 ) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @12:29PM (#10746673)
    Google has no right to an implied claim of impartiality if they are censoring results. If they censor results for political or other reasons, that fact should be prominently posted. But it isn't, because they want to have their cake and eat it, too.
  • Re:Flamebait (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Kamel Jockey ( 409856 ) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @12:31PM (#10746686) Homepage

    While things may or may not appear in a google search, how the heck does that have anything to do with the current administration or national security?

    Agreed. If you google for "Miserable Failure" you still get linked to President Bush's official White House page. If there was any sort of political influence on Google that would have been changed.

  • Welcome... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 07, 2004 @12:31PM (#10746688)
    ...to the fourth reich.

    And if you think that's too extreme, do some research into what fascism really means, particularly the level of corporate/gov't ties.
  • Re:Freedom (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DeltaBlaster ( 300386 ) * on Sunday November 07, 2004 @12:32PM (#10746692) 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.

    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.
  • 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...
  • -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?


    - A.P.
  • 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.

  • 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.
  • by Pros_n_Cons ( 535669 ) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @12:35PM (#10746720)
    Then why do the other search engines still carry it? It seems like Google has something confused and not the government

    Amazing isn't it. So desperate to bash the president they can pluck something out of thin air and blame Bush for it.
  • 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.

  • Probable answer (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Rayonic ( 462789 ) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @12:38PM (#10746741) Homepage Journal
    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.
  • by Malc ( 1751 ) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @12:38PM (#10746742)
    And you think a search engine with a reputation for unreliability is going to be popular enough to generate maximum revenues for those shareholders?
  • Anti-Americanism? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Sean Clifford ( 322444 ) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @12:39PM (#10746747) Journal
    How is criticizing the Administration being anti-American?
  • 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.
  • mod nuts? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by incom ( 570967 ) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @12:40PM (#10746755)
    The situation isn't remotely comparable. Torture by american soldiers in an occupied country, vs. tolerance for rape in US prisons are not in the same ballpark, although they are both bad things.
  • 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 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 matt_martin ( 159394 ) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @12:43PM (#10746787) Homepage Journal
    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.

    These practices were much more effective now than ever because there is a decreasing degree of competition out there (larger & more powerful companies with increasing power). You have fewer alternatives every day.

    And since the trend is international, its hard to say that this is really an "American" pheomenon.
    Maybe we're just noticing it first.
  • by Rand Huck ( 821621 ) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @12:44PM (#10746802) Homepage
    If you don't want a search engine to decide what you have access to, you have all the freedom on the Internet to conduct your search elsewhere. Just because Google is one of the most popular search engines doesn't mean you have to use it, and it doesn't mean Google has to provide free access to information.

    This isn't the first thing Google's done to limit information. You can never find links to download mp3's, whether they are legal or not, for example.

    This is censorship in the same way cable stations censor words out or choose which shows they will show, even though there is no legislation that requires them to. Or in the same way bookstores choose which books they want to carry.
  • by fireboy1919 ( 257783 ) <rustypNO@SPAMfreeshell.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.
  • by theantix ( 466036 ) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @12:51PM (#10746852) Journal
    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.
  • by Mornelithe ( 83633 ) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @12:52PM (#10746859)

    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 sides of the story, and that there's probably a reasonable explanation besides censorship in this case.

    Please, let's not let logic enter into this. Groupthink and alarmism is much easier, and more accepted around here.
  • ...Not to start a political flame fest, but if we voted for another 4 years of this, then we deserve whatever we fucking get.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 07, 2004 @12:57PM (#10746891)
    They own stock in the tinfoil hat companies. Remember the time they were upset because Google... had web logs?! OH NO!!!! Just like 99.9% of other websites, Google was keeping logs. And then Google... used cookies!!!! OH DEAR LORD! Not the cookies... that you can block with your browser. Bunch of maroons.
  • 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.

  • It depends (Score:5, Insightful)

    by HarveyBirdman ( 627248 ) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @01:01PM (#10746910) Journal
    Honest criticism is American and wholesome and apple pie and all that.

    But too many people these days are just making shit up out of the vacuum, and stuff that is so obviously stupid you can't help but start to question their motives and, in some cases, their sanity. This applies equally to the woo-woos who think Bush planned 9/11 and the hoo-hahs who think Clinton had dozens of people whacked in Arkansas.

    Personally, I think they are just trapped in ideological singularities that they have constructed in their minds as an alternative to dealing wth the true complexity of the world, but, hey, that's just me.

    Ideology and politics. It's easier than thinking.

  • 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:Get real... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by YrWrstNtmr ( 564987 ) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @01:06PM (#10746943)
    Do you really think that similar outrages haven't happened with every military force, in every conflict, ever since Ogg beat Foo over the head with a stick?
    Every military, every time.

    Not excusing it, or saying 'that's ok, no harm done'. But, unfortunately, it does happen. A tiny segment of humanity is ready, willing, and able to do crap like this. Some of them gravitate to their countries' military or police forces. And given the chance, they do it.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 07, 2004 @01:08PM (#10746963)
    There is constant talk in slashdot stories and posts about how the media gets things wrong and are irresponsible. **NEWS FLASH** SLASHDOT IS PART OF THE MEDIA AS WELL. Should the editors not hold themselves to the same standards they would like to hold to all the major news networks?

    This story for example, was posted without any story verification or critical thought. It is simply FUD.

    I remember reading a post showing that the rate of posts on Slashdot is declining (it was a post showing when all the important 10^n posts happened). At the time I thought to myself, "huh, that's weird", but not much of it. Now it seems painfully obvious that Slashdot is losing viewership because it doesn't take news reporting seriously. Slashdot could be perhaps the biggest internet community by now (its not) if it would take the "News for Nerds" seriously. The editors remind me of eternal critics who always want to find flaws in everyone else but never realize their own hypocrisy.

    I guess a simpler to put it for the editors is such:

    Step 1. Better reporting
    Step 2. Higher viewership
    Step 3: More ad $$!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 07, 2004 @01:09PM (#10746972)
    OK, time for the clue stick. If we're supposed to be the free world liberating the Iraqis, we have to hold ourselves to much hugher standards than terrorists and dictators. Somehow, our torture isn't nearly as bad as their torture just doesn't cut it.

    We all know that captured soldiers and civilians get brutally murdered in Iraq, and we all agree that it's bad, and that we're going to get the people responsible. This doesn't excuse things like Abu Ghraib. The entire justification for the war in Iraq rests on the fact that we have the moral high ground. You don't keep that by torturing people.
  • 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 radtea ( 464814 ) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @01:12PM (#10746994)

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

  • by Turn-X Alphonse ( 789240 ) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @01:13PM (#10746996) Journal
    Is this the next step in the war on terror? Deny EVERYTHING you do wrong? I remember when they claimed there was WMDs, but there wasn't. I remember when they said they wanted to make the world a safer place, but it isn't! We're taking bullshit from a monkey and a big eared twat and now they want to hide as much of it as they can.

    Bush needs to learn people understand war is harsh and no one wants it, but hiding what it is does no one ANY good. I don't want to see my troops or anyone elses die in a complete farse of bullying (Hey we have tech they have pitch forks and minor explosives.. do the math). But this is just stupid.

    In todays world you cannot censor most things, the internet has enough loop holes and back doors for you to find anything from the latest football results to pictures of a guy with his head cut off by these kidnappers.

    If we can't find it at google we'll go else where and see how "evil" google truely was all along.
  • Re:Get real... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 07, 2004 @01:19PM (#10747033)
    Horrifying conditions in prisons are not the government's fault. Its the people's fault. People are always howling for stricter punishments for crimes. You need look no further than slashdot to see it. Watch how people react whenever there is a virus or a spammer story.

    It's easy to point the finger. It's harder to point that finger right up our collective ass.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 07, 2004 @01:23PM (#10747059)
    I find the claims of many conservative americans that they have a moral high ground to invade iraq as funny. Killing thousands and thousands of innocent civilians is moral high ground for them. Really funny. Also another funny thing is these bible toting evangelicals use old testament to justify war and call muslim conservatives terrorists. I don't see any difference between christian fundamentalists and muslim fundamentalists. Both are equally bad.

    If these conservatives take away abortion right for their women, it is moral high ground and if muslims ask their women to wear Burkas, it is oppression. A scantly clad women who has no right for her own abortion is equal to Burka clad women without any right. These guys should stop talking about moral high grounds. This is sheer hypocrisy.
  • by NeedleSurfer ( 768029 ) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @01:24PM (#10747067)
    You asked for it remember? The last elections... doesn't ring a bell, you guys chose the man who thinks freedom is a barrier to freedom, the man who thinks your security is so important that locking you in a cage is for your own good (of course you'll have the right to have your AK-47, don't worry, they will respect you constitution given right to kill people, we know how important violence is to you so...).

    Anyways one little word of wisdom to all americans BLUE and RED. That won't work this time, Bush hasn't stolen the election he won them, wether by your actions or inactions, I know that all american travelling outside will tell us that THEY voted Kerry and they have nothing to do with it, actually all americans to which we will speak will try that bullshit but welcome to the very nature of democracy: YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE. You are your government, you chose the guy who is bent on the destruction of every living soul that do not bow before you. LIVE WITH YOUR CHOICE, next asshole who plunge into your buildings won't make us cry, you expressedly asked for it, you cannot menace the entire planet and expect to get friends. So starting for this day on, you guys might want to believe Echelon and Carnivore aren't real, you might convince yourself that you are free, you might try to pose as guardians of morality I don't give a shit and about anyone I know either, YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR EVERYTHING THAT WILL HAPPEN NEXT, you are as good of a target then any governement member or military personnel, because you are your governement, this my friends is called democracy, live with it, and in the meantime try to get some education cause according to your own Ben Franklin, democracy is impossible without eductation, result: Bush, and it's your fault.

    As for this other episode of your liberties get corrupted get use to it and stop crying cause crying doesn't solve problems, actions do. Plus, you asked for it...

    Feel safer?

    (man I can feel my karma burning already! ;)) )

    you know what? That felt good.. /rant over
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 07, 2004 @01:26PM (#10747088)
    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 SirChive ( 229195 ) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @01:29PM (#10747105)
    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 viewpoint.

    For Google to censor something as important as this is truely abhorrent. If we can't trust that a Google search will be free of a political agenda then it's worthless.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 07, 2004 @01:29PM (#10747113)
    Uh, no. That's not how public companies work. They owe their investors maximum profit. If they (and their investors) feel that self-censorship will improve their image and make more money, then that's what they should do.
  • What people are calling bullshit on is that you said that the law was a secret. You said [slashdot.org] that the ACLU sued the government to get access to the entire law. That is categorically false, you as well as anyone in the world, can read the law in its entirety.

    The law's effects might be exempt from informing you of when events happen. But the law itself is open for you to view.

  • by wertarbyte ( 811674 ) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @01:42PM (#10747185) Homepage

    So they owe to their clients (the public) unfiltered and uncensored results.

    You are not the client. You are the product. Clients are the people that place ads via google.

  • Re:It depends (Score:5, Insightful)

    by WindBourne ( 631190 ) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @01:42PM (#10747188) Journal

    You need some long history lessons. American policians and their policies have historically been attacked by the opposing parties as well as the press. In fact, that is the function of the press. Up until JFK, the press went after the politician and his policy only. Starting with JFK, they seems to feel that their personal life was fair game (too be honest, I think that is the opposite party pushing that crap). The same can be said of Carter (distance family was fair game), Poppa Bush (Neil in particular, gwb as well when poppa was in the white house), and Clinton( Interesting that they did not pursue LBJ, Nixon, Reagan, or GWB's family to any length ).

    Now with GWB, he AND HIS POLICIES seem to be off-limits. In addition, their is now patriot act (I and II) that is thrown up at the press, companies, and individuals to prevent them from doing what they should do; that is report and criticize the policies.

  • Cycle of abuse (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Baldrson ( 78598 ) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @01:48PM (#10747211) Homepage Journal
    The fact of the matter is that sexual abuse is contageous -- and the hysterical attitudes of many people toward sexual sadism in prison is in the mode of the abused becoming the abuser. You can't live in a society like the US is, particularly if you are a white-collar, white-bread, non-gang affiliated male, and experience the government in a way that isn't abusive. Eventually you either identify with the abuser, and become a jingoistic government lacky, or you decide that just about any means are justified against just about anyone or anything identified with the government's power.
  • mod parent up (Score:2, Insightful)

    by dildo ( 250211 ) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @01:51PM (#10747222)
    the grandparent is totally nuts. This is just like the right wing blaming Abu Ghraib on pornography and women's lib.

    No, really. The right wing tried to blame Abu Ghraib on pornography and women's lib.

    I think these factors contributed far more:
    • Working in an overcrowded, dangerous place (Abu Ghraib was shelled regularly and dangerously understaffed)
    • Assigning people with no prison training to not only watch but "prepare" (i.e. break through torture) inmates for interrogation
    • The not-so-subtle indoctrination that the Abu Ghraib prisoners were terrorists, instead of common criminals or innocent people (according to the red cross, anywheres from 60-80% of the Abu Ghraib prisoners were innocent people, rounded up in raids)
    • Failures of leadership of the first degree
    • Pure and simple racism and dehumanization
  • by blamanj ( 253811 ) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @01:52PM (#10747230)
    Did you actually look at the images or just notice that images were returned?

    A search on google.co.uk does not return any of the torture photos.
  • by ScrewMaster ( 602015 ) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @01:53PM (#10747236)
    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 determining what search results Google can or cannot return, then I'd say the First Amendment is involved here in a big way. I mean, services like Google are what the First Amendment is all about, even if the Founders wouldn't have known a search engine from a sailboat.
  • by paganizer ( 566360 ) <.moc.liamtoh. .ta. .1evorgeht.> on Sunday November 07, 2004 @01:55PM (#10747251) Homepage Journal
    Then don't use it.
    If enough people don't use it, they will probably change the way they do things.
    I had a similar rant happen to me about one of the websites I run; I just sort of check in on things every once in a while, and if I see something that really bugs me has been posted, i'll delete it. If you don't like me editing the things I don't like from my system, don't use it.
    go away.
    find something you like better.
    It's what made america great.
  • by MTO_B. ( 814477 ) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @02:02PM (#10747291) Homepage
    I see many posts saying it's probably as a result of an outdated index. It's not! Proof?

    Some of the images that they do have are from articles of recent as June.

    Just look at the article dates. Some are really old, but some are rather "recent". Some of the articles where the pictures are found are even talking about the scandal!
  • by freedom_india ( 780002 ) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @02:04PM (#10747299) Homepage Journal
    ...especially when they start to pander to Big Brother twins (China & USA).

    The phrase: "Do no evil..." needs to be appended added with following "...and do not bite any Government's ass..."

    Imagine if India flexes it's muscle and demands google remove all references to "occupied Kashmir"...

    The first censored post, the first stopped mail, the first "missing" image is the first step we take towards losing our hard-earned freedom and liberty.

    "Give me liberty or...uh how about a million dollars..."

  • by weisen ( 461536 ) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @02:08PM (#10747329)
    Yes, of course Google has a right, as a company, to set their own policy. It's just that people have presumed that they were getting the best results for their search and they'll stop presuming that about Google if it becomes an arm of the right-wing government.

    Now, the more interesting thing is the fact that there are, in fact, other nations on the planet. So, follow the downfall of the US:

    government lies ->
    government alters the media and information sources to support their lies ->
    top engineering and science talent stop flocking to the US from elsewhere ->
    top engineering and science talent flee the US for elsewhere ->
    number of engineering and science innovations created within the country drops ->
    military superiority drops as we end up needing to buy technological advances from other countries and do so at their whim ->

    Shall I continue?

    Step #3 is well underway.

    (Background: I'm an American patriot. I grew up in and was educated about the history of a very different country than the one in which I currently reside. Unlike the current administration, I do not think that the system of government that was, quite carefully at times, built over the past 228+ years was such a mistake that we can, without careful thought, overturn all of its checks and balances (see: limits on how much media one company can own, separation of chuch and state, etc.)

  • Re:Get real... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DeepHurtn! ( 773713 ) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @02:12PM (#10747345)
    Everytime I hear an American say something like "Send 'im to federal pound-me-in-the-ass prison" I shudder. If extra-judicial and indiscriminate RAPE has become a socially tolerated and even *expected* method of punishment, something is really, really fucked up.
  • 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.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 07, 2004 @02:26PM (#10747450)
    If you do a blanket image search from a given website on Google you will quickly find that all of the images the engine finds are very out of date.

    This points to Google just having a weak image search update frequency as others have pointed out earlier, providing direct proof.

    For example, search for WoW on www.battle.net using Google (advanced tools). You'll find no images or very few, because it's a relatively new game.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 07, 2004 @02:45PM (#10747577)
    On one hand there is a known problem with consistency and accuracy with Google's image search. On the other hand, there is a possible massive government conspiracy to repress images on only one search engine. Take your meds and get a reality check.
  • by clayski ( 214528 ) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @02:51PM (#10747609) Homepage

    For those who know how to use Google advanced search, instead of relying on Google Images, the photos are simple to find. Google has simply chosen not to promote them by serving them up in Google Images, which has always been a very small subset of the photos indexed by Google.

    Just use "abu ghraib" in the "exact phrase" (string) field, and "image photo gif jpeg picture" in the "at least one of the words" (boolean OR) field. All of the top sites listed have the photos available (until Slashdotted in 10...9...8...7...6...)

    Information just wants to be free.
  • by caseydk ( 203763 ) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @03:27PM (#10747815) Homepage Journal

    This sounds like your emphacising the strengths of an open market-based system.

    I'm glad someone besides me has taken some basic econ....
  • by tulax24 ( 649013 ) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @03:29PM (#10747834)
    Okay I'm growing tired of this argument. The company owes the maximum utility to their shareholders, money is only one element of the total utility the shareholder recieves from owning the stock. To illustrate this, say you have the choice of buying two stocks, stock A and stock B. Say they are very consistent stocks, and you know you will make a dollar from stock A and 1.05 from stock B. However stock A say is a kitten adoption company and stock B makes death rays. Which stock are you going to buy? Most people will buy stock A, because they value the positive feeling they get from buying stock A over stock B more than the 5 cents. Mistaking profit for utility is a very common mistake that is often passed off as economics.

    My other problem is you could use this argument to justify anything and excuse companies of any moral responsibility, ie enron.
  • by Hechz ( 60033 ) <mars@photosphere. n e t> on Sunday November 07, 2004 @03:35PM (#10747874)
    That seems a VERY unlikely explanation as they WERE available. That and the story is QUITE OLD.
  • by niittyniemi ( 740307 ) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @03:50PM (#10747961) Homepage

    > It seems to only be the US version of google that censored. Performing
    > the same search on google.co.uk (for example) reveals no censorship.

    I did a search [google.co.uk] on google.co.uk and none of the torture pictures show up. But on the first page a picture of happy, smiling Iraqis and American troops cutting a ribbon shows up courtesy of Centcom [centcom.mil] - I think that picture made me feel more nauseous than the torture pics.

    A search for Lynndie England [google.co.uk] returns nothing.

    Google have to come up with a pretty convincing explanation as to why these searches turn up nothing - an explanation that doesn't include censorship or technical incompetence or else I'm off to find me a better search engine.

    If as others have suggested that they don't update their picture index for 6 months.....well that's pretty pathetic from the leading search engine if it's the case.

  • by Zenzilla ( 793153 ) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @03:58PM (#10748012)
    Sorry Saddham Hussein, people in Iraq do have the right to choose a new government, just like every other group of people. Once enough of them get tired of being oppressed, they will 'choose' a new government.
  • 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 stoo..art ( 739377 ) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @05:24PM (#10748679) Homepage
    I too have no idea how google implements its image search index, but I do know that it is either seriously flawed or being actively censored. These images received massive worldwide media coverage less than a year ago and are used by any anti-american group who want to say "look, see... *they* are the evil ones".

    To not have a single listing on the index because it is "out of date" is frankly unbelievable.

  • Re:Arab world (Score:4, Insightful)

    by gaijin99 ( 143693 ) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @05:33PM (#10748761) Journal
    Howabout we start by having a civilized conversation without unwarranted assumptions, 'k? Nothing I wrote stated, or implied, that the only thing the US government was doing in Iraq was killing people. I *did* point out that using missiles to take out combatants in residential areas is a bad idea, which isn't the same thing at all.

    I disagree with your basic assumption that the US needed to invade Iraq. Pakistan, just as an example, had and continues to have, weapons much more powerful than Saddam ever had a wet dream about, and the proven willingness to sell the secrets of making those weapons to terrorists. Not only that, but there is very strong evidence linking the dictator of Pakistan to terrorists operating in the Kashmir region. I'm not saying that we should have invaded Pakistan, but I am saying that Iraq seems to have been less of a threat than Pakistan is, and Pakistan is simply the easiest example I can think of.

    Given that 15 out of 19 of the 9/11 terrorists were Saudi subjects, I would have expected the US to use its political muscle to force the Saudi dictators to stop funding "schools" that do nothing more than teach children to hate America. I find it horrifying that this basic step has not yet happened, and that the US government continues to be quite friendly to the Saudi despots.

    Similarly, while military action in Afghanistan was self-evidently necessary, the US never put more than 1/10th of the troops on the ground there that are currently in Iraq. After the bombs stopped falling, the Bush government seemed to loose interest. In evidence of that, I will point out that in 2003, the year after the invasion of Afghanistan the Bush government's proposed budget had $0 for rebuilding efforts in Afghanistan. As a consiquence, the heroin output of Afghanistan is now back to pre-war levels, warlords control huge segments of the country, and the Taliban is growing again. I don't think you can successfully combat terrorism by taking that approach to things.

    As for Iraq, the rebuilding is going quite slowly, in large part because the US government does little to involve the Iraqis in the rebuilding. Unemployment is 80% in Iraq today. Virtually all rebuilding is done by foreign contractors, which doesn't contribute much to Iraq's economy, nor to fostering a sense of confidence in the nationbuilding process.

    Given both what the Bush government said before the war began, and news reports indicating that planning for the post-war was essentially ignored, I cannot agree with you that "we need more people to understand what the current one [plan] really is". I'd settle for there being a plan, much less having a good one, and I do not see any evidence that there was a well laid out plan.

    "The United States is committed to helping Iraq recover from the conflict, but Iraq will not require sustained aid," 20030328 O.M.B. Director Mitch Daniels. I quote former Director Daniels as an example of the unwarranted optimism that went into what little planning was done. Richard Perle said that he'd be surprised if there wasn't a grand square in Bagdhad named after president Bush. In March 2003, during a meeting of war planners and intelligence officials at Shaw Air Force Base, an Army official's presentation on the Pentagon's strategy included a slide on "Phase 4-C," the period of rebuilding after fighting had ended. That slide said only "To Be Provided." Knight Ridder Newspapers. "the insurgency was not inevitable ... We had momentum going in and had Saddam's forces on the run. But we did not have enough troops ... They took advantage of our limited numbers." Major General James A. Marks.

    My points here aren't that complex: 1) there doesn't seem to have been any reality based post war planning, and 2) that lack is creating sympathy for terrorists both in Iraq and the rest of the Arab world. Abu Gharib was just the icing on the cake.

  • Re:-1, Idiotic. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ShinmaWa ( 449201 ) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @06:07PM (#10749027)
    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_.

    Isn't this interesting?

    Someone posts a question to a tech forum website, which then gets turned into a conjecture, which then becomes an accusation by Slashdot, which then becomes solid indesputable fact by the parent poster here... all despite the fact that you can get to the information very easily by doing a Google search on "Abu Ghraib photos". Not that anyone even bothered to TRY....

    Whatever happened to fact-checking and thinking for yourself? What happened to never taking anything at face-value? Are we so used to be screwed by faceless corporations that we make these reactionary knee-jerk blind leaps without any real evidence to back them up?
  • by Christopher Thomas ( 11717 ) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @06:13PM (#10749070)
    I dont think its a "technical issue aka sorry we cant do it", but a willingful decision of delay to not let "critical material" of any kind spread as fast over the number one info-pool as it otherwise really could

    Stop and think about this for a minute.

    Do you have any idea how _huge_ an amount of effort it would take to screen images indexed and search terms and tweak them so that no images "harmful to the administration" came up?

    When it takes this much effort, and there's nobody holding a gun to their head, and they have competitors gaining mindshare, why the _hell_ would Google bother with this? Their primary purpose is to make money, not please Republicans, and they're going to be around a lot longer than Bush will be in power!

    The line is that their "news" images cycle out of the index quickly, and I can certainly believe this - after all, if I'm searching for newsfeed images, chances are I'm asking about something that happened recently.

    Trying to stage a cover-up of the type suggested would be very expensive and not a good business strategy.
  • by Qwegrpt ( 768672 ) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @06:54PM (#10749393)

    What does the spelling suggestion prove? Searching for misspilling asfasfasf [google.com] returns zero results, but suggests a search for misspelling asfasfasf [google.com] - which curiously also returns zero images.

    Oh no! Censorship!

  • by Atzanteol ( 99067 ) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @07:22PM (#10749620) Homepage
    Simple. Not finding information on a subject does not mean none exists.

    Christ people, just because Google is Good(TM) doesn't mean you should forget how to lookup information using other sources!

    Hey, they're not perfect! Go figure!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 08, 2004 @01:41AM (#10752120)
    As an aside... what always bothers me with this kind of footage is the fact that these photos are only of what they (the soldiers) were prepared to photograph in the name of "fun". The mind boggles at what might have been going on that didn't qualify as a happy-snap !
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 08, 2004 @01:34PM (#10756108)
    I guess your "basic econ" class didn't cover the chilling effect of technology patents and other government-dictated protections on innovation, eh?

    Go beat yourself with a clue-by-four until you realize that we don't have an open market in virtually any field (not even commodities, let alone software dev. and search optimization). Thanks.

"Yeah, but you're taking the universe out of context."