Recently, a blogger in Chicago by the name of Hind Makki discovered something shocking on Google, while doing some research for her blog. Ms Makki told Quartz news, that she was writing a piece about “Clinton’s point about how American Muslims are ‘on the frontline of our defense’ and how problematic that framing is“. She also said, “American Muslims *already* report suspicious activity & suspected terrorism to the authorities (and I wanted to link a particular study on my blog).

Google suggests Muslims support terrorism

Picture Source   Google suggests Muslims support terrorism

In the course of her research, she googled the phrase “American Muslims report terrorism” and was greeted with the suggestion “American Muslims support terrorism” as shared by her on Twitter:

However, this wasn’t an intentional attempt by any of the programmers at Google to portray themselves as Anti-Muslim, though. As everyone knows, Google’s search suggestions occur whenever you type an incorrect word, or a spelling, where Google’s algorithm tries to suggest the most likely and closest word/s to the phrase you’ve entered. What you might not know, is that the algorithm works largely by basing its suggestions on the most likely combinations of the words, whenever it runs into an anomaly. In this case, the suggestion was a result of “Muslims support terrorism” being the most googled combination of these words, as opposed to “Muslims report terrorism“.   Google suggests Muslims support terrorism

Google suggests Muslims support terrorism

Picture Source    Google suggests Muslims support terrorism

This fact is what is even more troubling. This basically shows that Google’s algorithm wasn’t actually working incorrectly, it was working exactly as it had been programmed. In fact, it’s because of the shockingly vast number of people who search for this phrase using the word “support” instead of “report” that the algorithm saw it as an error.   Google suggests Muslims support terrorism

Needless to say, the reality is quite the opposite. Makki also told Quartz, “I thought it was hilarious, but also sad and immediately screen capped it. I know it’s not Google’s ‘fault,’ but it goes to show just how many people online search for ‘Muslims support terrorism,’ though the reality on the ground is the opposite of that.”         Google suggests Muslims support terrorism

Google suggests Muslims support terrorism

Picture Source     Google suggests Muslims support terrorism

The issue has since been fixed, and a Google spokesperson said that the suggestion has now been removed; it no longer appears on searches for “Muslims report terrorism.”

However, we can’t help but be left with a lingering feeling of disappointment and sadness, realising that the majority of our world, and not the minority, is the one formed of xenophobia and stereotyped racism.   Google suggests Muslims support terrorism
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