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Google is profiting from Holocaust denial, says Jewish museum

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Breman Museum in Atlanta says it is paying$ 2 a click to stop neo-Nazi site being top outcome for did the Holocaust happen

A Jewish heritage museum has accused Google of profiting from Holocaust denial because it is paying to prevent a neo-Nazi website from appearing as the top outcome for did the Holocaust happen.

The marketing director of the Breman Museum in Atlanta, Georgia, said it was nauseating that Google directed users to the white supremacist site, and added that it was paying Google up to$ 2 a click to direct searchers to its own site via AdWords, Googles pay-per-click advertising service.

David Schendowich said it was nonsense for Google to claim that it was not profiting from Holocaust denial. They may not take money from people denying the Holocaust, but the point is that museums and two organizations are paying to fight this stuff. They plainly are. We are. Were paying them up to$ 2 a click.

He declined to say how much the museum paid to Google but said search engine optimisation( SEO) and AdWords were a key part and cost of its marketing strategy.

The director of the Breman Museum, Aaron Berger, said that according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, Georgia was one of the worst states in the US for active detest groups and using AdWords was an incredibly important part of our approach in get our site up the search results.

A Google spokesman said last week: We never want to make money from searches for Holocaust denial and we dont allow regular advertising on those terms.

The Observer paid Google to take out ads pointing to the Wikipedia entry on the Holocaust for a number of Holocaust searches, spending 550 in just over two days. On Monday, Google offered to refund the money. The Observer declined the offer.

It comes after an intense three weeks of pressure on the company regarding its search results. It has all along been refused to take responsibility for directing Google users to detest content including a neo-Nazi site, Stormfront, for a search for did the Holocaust happen.

Leading academics said it was probably holding firm because to edit content on one subject would lead to calls to take action over other controversial topics. Frank Pascale, prof of statute at the University of Maryland, said it would be a tacit admission that it was a publishing company and not a neutral platform, as it maintains.

On Tuesday, however, Google told a search industry website it had decided to make a major algorithmic change to combat the problem.

In a narrative, headlined Official: Google attains change, results are no longer in refusal over Did the Holocaust happen ?~ ATAGEND a Google spokesman said the company had recently made improvements to our algorithm that will help surface more high quality, believable content on the web.

But Barry Schwartz, the founder of Search Engine Roundtable, a long-standing industry site, said: There is no evidence of any change to the algorithm. We track these things very carefully and theres nothing to suggest they have done anything.

When asked why he guessed Google had made the announcement at this time, he said: It just seems like it must be a PR thing. Thats the only justification I can see.

Schendowich of the Berman Museum said Google was critical in get the museums message about the Holocaust out: Search is everything. Its so powerful. People dont respond to print. If you dont show in search you are invisible.

Its website does not show up on the first page of Googles natural ie not-paid for search results for Did the Holocaust happen. Schendowich said the museum use very aggressive SEO techniques but it was hard because Google is a big mystery. Its a black box. Nobody knows how it works. Only Google.

It therefore paid Google to come higher up the search results than sites such as Stormfront via AdWords by targeting certain search terms.

We cant afford to advertise that much because this is a very expensive search. Its expensive because its popular. Thats how it works. You pay more to advertise Nike shoes than some other brand. This is the same. Its a very hot topic and what bothers me is that a denier site is right at the top. Its nauseating. Perfectly nauseating. I talk to so many people who survived it it did happen. We have all the evidence. Thats what were doing. Thats why its so important.

A Google spokesman said: We have no interest in profiting from sites or organisations that promote loathe, which is why we ban them from using our ads systems. Under some circumstances we allow advertising against offensive words, typically by organisations whose mission involves training people about the issues. Those organisations can and do apply for Ad Grants free advertising to drive awareness and promote educational messages. We give millions of dollars worth of free ad to non-profit organisations through our Ad Grants programme.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

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