It seems many advertisers are linking to hate sites without even knowing it. The number of these sites is growing almost daily. While no one knows the true number of hate sites, sources indicate that roughly 1,200 to 4,000 exist.
Of course there is a fairly large group of activists that believe the Internet is the root of all this evil. Newsflash people: The Internet doesn't create bigots, racists, and freaks; they are already out there. The Internet is a hotbed of online expression. The key is to know these sites are out there and protect yourself from them.
If you know me, you know I've been a big fan of Google from the get-go. I'm happy to say that Google is true to its roots. It thrives on a great user experience. Recently, several Jewish groups complained about websites listed in search results. They want hate sites more clearly defined. As a result, Google is considering more clearly identifying such sites.
Seems like Google may go back to categories. Could you imagine a category listed as offensive? While this is the right idea, it might not be the right answer. Would this draw more attention to these sites? Putting a label on something wouldn't create a mere speed bump to attaining top rankings. Furthermore, Google will only omit a search result when told to do so by authorities.
According to a recent San Francisco Chronicle article, Brian Marcus, director of Internet monitoring for the Anti-Defamation League, based in New York, said he was pleased with Google's response.
"We understood that Google was not going to change how they were going to do the results, but we wondered whether they could put up a flag or notice that this is a hate site, like they had until a few weeks ago."
So what's out there? Well, there is a game allowing players to "shoot" illegal immigrants, an array of anti-Semitic sites, gay bashing sites, KKK sites, the list goes on. Just even typing this makes me cringe.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center has been tracking websites for nine years. The site was designed to "monitor" hate sites rather than infringe on free speech. It makes teachers, parents, law enforcement officials, etc. aware of not only the sites, but also the "tricks" many sites use. For instance, your child may be doing a research paper on Martin Luther King, Jr. S/he could potentially link to a site that appears to be educational, but is actually run by a racist organization.
"People need to realize how much hatred there is ... and the extraordinary technological advance of people who are spreading these lies," said New York City Council Speaker Gifford Miller, who attended the news conference where the report was released.
There have also been a growing number of sites popping up that list, warn, and educate surfers on hate sites out there. Film critic Roger Ebert had been vocal in regard to these sites. Ebert wrote: "Why in God's name do you list the URLs of all those hate sites, carefully categorized by country, area of hate, etc.? A racist will find no handier all-in-one source."
Many would argue that the creators of hate sites organize and recruit members. Nonetheless, without the capability of search, finding one of these sites would be like finding a needle in a haystack. So is Google on the right track? Would categories only emphasize hate sites? Should rankings be considered? What about Free Speech? Will more software companies bud from this dilemma? What should be done?
I'll leave you with a funny anecdote. When writing this story, I came across a site called I Hate Hate Sites. It's almost as applicable as the good old bumper sticker that says "Mean People Suck."