Security chiefs within Britain’s Jewish community have welcomed an idea from Google’s boss for a “hate-speech spell-checker,” which would prompt users away from racist terminology.
It follows an article in the New York Times by Eric Schmidt, the internet giant’s executive chairman, who was spelling out how the company could help people see the world without bias.
“We should make it easier to see the news from another country’s point of view, and understand the global consciousness free from filter or bias,” he said. “We should build tools to de-escalate tensions on social media, sort of like spell-checkers, but for hate and harassment.”
A spokesman for the Community Security Trust in Britain said such a tool would be “wonderful,” adding: “We welcome the internet companies using all technical means possible to tackle hate speech rather than relying solely on reporting from victims.”
There is a fierce and long-running debate in the technology sector regarding the extent to which internet companies should intervene in communications, and recent debates about freedom of speech have only intensified the arguments.
Earlier this month Google, which owns video-sharing website YouTube, denied reports that it had agreed to monitor material together with Israel, after the country’s deputy foreign minister Tzipi Hotovely suggested otherwise.
The Israeli government says online incitement is a major motivator causing Palestinians to carry out knife and car-ramming attacks against Jews in Israel and Palestinian territories, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu calling on Google, Facebook and Twitter to do more to monitor and remove such material.