Hey, Google, is it what the Holocaust looked like?
Auditing algorithmic curation of visual historical content on Web search engines
Keywords:search engine, algorithmic curation, Holocaust, image search, malperformance, bias, visual representation, history, mass atrocities, revisionism, antisemitism, trivialization
By filtering and ranking information, search engines shape how individuals perceive both the present and past events. However, these information curation mechanisms are prone to malperformance that can misinform their users. In this article, we examine how search malperformance can influence representation of traumatic past by investigating image search outputs of six search engines in relation to the Holocaust in English and Russian. Our findings indicate that besides two common themes - commemoration and liberation of camps - there is substantial variation in visual representation of the Holocaust between search engines and languages. We also observe several instances of search malperformance, including content propagating antisemitism and Holocaust denial, misattributed images, and disproportionate visibility of specific Holocaust aspects that might result in its distorted perception by the public.
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