The country which surrendered to the Nazis, bought us the Dreyfuss Affair, Papus, Frogs’ Legs and the Vichy Government, is ordering Google to ban the word Jew from its instant searches.
According to AFP it is not quite as it seems. A French judge has asked a mediator to resolve a dispute between Google and anti-racism groups who object to the search engine suggesting users add “Jew” to name searches.
The problem is that Google’s autocomplete feature which suggests what people might want to search based on algorithms of previous searches.
But in France, users of Google keep asking if politicians, actors or other celebrities are Jewish.
So if you tap Justin Bieber the autocomplete will suggest the word “Jew” in French, or girl, but strangely not “talentless”.
SOS Racisme, the Movement against Racism and for Friendship between Peoples (MRAP) and the International League Against Racism and anti-Semitism (LICRA) argue that Google is unintentionally breaking the law.
The group’s brief said that Google users “are confronted daily by the unsolicited and almost systematic association of the word ‘Jew’ with the names of the best-known people in the world of politics, the media or business”.
It doesn’t exactly help racial harmony if right-wing nut jobs hoping to prove that there is a Jewish conspiracy to take over the world and ban bacon butties can identify their targets.
Under French law, it is illegal to record someone’s ethnicity in a database and Judge Martine Provost-Lopin on Wednesday accepted a request from all parties to appoint a mediator to find a solution, with a next hearing set for 27 June .
A Google France spokesperson told AFP that Google did not decide on these requests in a manual way – all requests shown by autocomplete have previously been searched for by users on Google.