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Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Google, Autism, and Hateful Terms

The Internet has been central in the rise of autism as a national issue.  But it has also provided a forum for those who hate and resent people on the spectrum.  In Newark, The Star-Ledger reports:
How would you feel if an internet search about your neurological condition produced a suggestion you be exterminated?
Autism activists have succeeded in getting Google to change the results of its automated search process so that offensive "hate speech" doesn't routinely show up as a suggested match.
Until today, typing "Autistic people should...." into Google's search engine would produce four so-called "auto-complete" suggestions: that they "be killed," "die," or "be exterminated."
In response, an autism activist group staged an online protest called a Flash Blog, which encouraged people with autism to counteract those violent suggestions with poetry and positive awareness of the developmental condition.
 The Star-Ledger updates the story:
With each passing day, Google’s effort to eliminate offensive terms about autism from its search engine suggestions is gradually taking effect.
Typing in the phrase “Autistic people should ...” last week produced so-called “auto-complete” suggestions that they “be killed,” “die” or “be exterminated.”
Four days later, there has been some improvement: Only one of the three auto-complete suggestions expresses violent hostility to people who have the neurological developmental disorder.
The latest top search result suggestion is “killed,” followed by “should autistic people have children” and “should autistic people drive.”