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Sep 12 2006

Google Censors 9/11 Hijackers Image?

I'll state up front, I don't know if this is just an anomaly or actual censorship by Google. I'll state my case and let others more knowledgeable about Google decide.

498-google-censors.gifBackground on Google. It is well known that Google cooperates with the hard-line Chinese government and self-censors content on the Chinese version of Google. This is done under the theory that working with the Chinese government toward change is better than being blocked out and unable to have any influence. Many would disagree.

Lesser known is the liberal culture within Google where, in the last presidential election, 98% of Google's employees who made political contributions donated to Democrats. Or, that Google has been accused of purging conservative news sites from its hand-picked Google News service under the guise that such sources contain hate speech while refusing to eliminate Muslim sites that preach Islamic supremacism, jihad ideology and anti-semitism which are much more virulent and hateful than most any of the purged conservative websites.

Background on the Image. Shortly after September 11, 2001, I sought out a single picture of all the 9/11 hijackers together. Much to my utter amazement, I couldn't find one. So, I created one myself by pasting together individual mugshots from the FBI website and posted it in the Pictures section of this website (long before it had a blog front end). Shortly thereafter, the picture was posted all over the internet. It is by far the most popular item on this website. It has been posted thousands of different times from Free Republic to Daily Kos to Fark. In fact, if you do a Google image search (GIS) for "9/11 hijackers" or just "hijackers" it always comes up as the first result...at least, until yesterday the fifth anniversary of 9/11.

I checked my logs over the weekend and saw that links to the picture were increasing with the approaching anniversary and checked the picture's ranking on Google and it was number one sometime on the 9th or 10th as it has been for a long time. For some reason, I checked again on the 11th and the picture had vanished from the Google image search results. I then checked other countries versions of Google where it is still number one. See the following screen captures for Google image searches for "9 11 hijackers" for a dozen random countries:

Australia - Brazil - Canada

France - Germany - Japan

Mexico - Russia - Saudi Arabia (read right to left)

South Africa - Spain - United Kingdom

In every instance, except two, my 9/11 hijackers image is the first result. The two countries where the image isn't just less than number one but wholly fails to appear anywhere in the results...China (which we know Google censors) and the U.S.

China - United States

Here's a live Google.com image search for "9 11 hijackers" to see if there is any change since this entry was posted.

The number one image on the internet showing the 9/11 hijackers together (which is accused of being politically incorrect because, though wholly factual and presented without comment, inappropriately focuses on the similar physical characteristics of the terrorists) vanishes from U.S. Google image search results on or around 9/11. An innocent anomaly in Google's vast database or some activist Google employee using his China-honed censoring skills?

-------------------- UPDATE --------------------

Somehow Google's safe-search feature is involved. The image in question is ranked number one when Google's safe-search feature is set to the default "moderate" setting but disappears from Google's database when either "strict filtering" or "do not filter" is selected. This makes no sense, as non-filtered results should include everything that is shown when moderate filtering is selected.

I use "do not filter" as my default and have not adjusted it so I stand by my assertion that around the 11th the image disappeared from Google's non-filtered results.

All of the Google image searches for the other countries were the first time I ever searched there and, accordingly, Google's default filtering settings kicked in. A sampling of those foreign searches at different filtering levels provides the same result as Google.com.

While the filtering differences provide some insight, I'm still left with the image being removed from Google's unfiltered results.

-------------------- UPDATE --------------------

Posted by Don |


  1. #1
    2Hotel9 said on September 13, 2006 | Reply

    Howdy! I linked over from sayanything to get a look at the 9/11 hyjackers poster, and I know where there was a copy of it. It was printed on photopaper and pinned to the bulletin board in a bar in Petrolia PA. Pretty sure that it was put up in several other bars, VFWs, and at least 2 Amer Legion posts. If you need it I will see if any are still around, scan it in and email it along. I like your blog, always trawling for new places. I'll pass the word around. Later on, bro.

  2. #2
    Mic said on September 15, 2006 | Reply

    I ran across your blog today by accident, and I like it. Interestingly, on September 11, I did a for "9/11 hijackers" images and nothing about your site came up. After reading your entry today, I did another search and now the image from your page appears. Strange. (I have never seen your website before today.)

  3. Thanks for the input. You back up my observation that there was indeed a coincidental glitch or timely censorship. As you said, strange either way.

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I don't know if censorship is the cause, but this from Don Danz certainly seems interesting: Shortly after September 11, 2001, I sought out a single picture of all the 9/11 hijackers together. Much to my utter amazement, I couldn't... Read More