Google says it ‘needs to do better’ after antisemitic reviews left of Auschwitz
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Google says it ‘needs to do better’ after antisemitic reviews left of Auschwitz

Search engine giant criticised after 'sickening' comments left on its Maps rating platform by anonymous users

Auschwitz concentration camp
Auschwitz concentration camp

Google has admitted it “needs to do better” to prevent hate on its platform amid anger over antisemitic reviews of Auschwitz

An investigation by the Guardian revealed more than 150 hate-filled comments were left on Google Maps for the site of the Auschwitz-Birkenau museum.

Among antisemitic comments included “Heil Hitler” and “It’s a shame the SS was disbanded so long ago”. According to the Guardian, the overwhelming majority of comments were anonymous.

Auschwitz operated as an extermination and concentration camp during the Holocaust, and more than 1.1million people were murdered there.

A Google spokesperson told Jewish News: “We are appalled by these reviews on our platform and are taking action to remove the content and prevent further abuse. We have clear policies that prohibit offensive and fake reviews and we work around the clock to monitor Maps. In this case, we know we need to do better and are working to evaluate and improve our detection systems.”

It also confirmed that the comments were removed immediately when flagged, while accounts were suspended and disabled.

Condemning the “sickening” comments, Karen Pollock, Chief Executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust said: “This is an endless stream of ‘jokes’, insults and belittling of the place where 1.1 million people were murdered just because they were Jewish. These posts are deeply offensive and antisemitic.”

HET’s Karen Pollock speaking to students in Auschwitz on the organisation’s Lessons From Auschwitz project with UJS

Google need to take responsibility for the hate being shared on their site and take steps to monitor and remove such abhorrent content, and improve and change their moderation and policies.”

76 years on from the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, with survivors still sharing their harrowing testimonies, it is shocking and disturbing to see these Google reviews of Auschwitz Memorial and Museum – a place that deserves sombre and dignified reflection and remembrance.”

A CST spokesperson told the Guardian: “These so-called ‘reviews’ of Auschwitz are grotesque and there is absolutely no justification for Google’s failure to remove them.

“It is sadly predictable that the listing for Auschwitz would attract antisemitic comments and Google ought to have systems in place to address this.”

They added: “Unfortunately [Google’s] failure to do so is yet another example of the need for effective regulation through the online harms bill. It is clear that the platforms’ existing policies are not doing the job.”

 

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