top of page

Google Posts then Deletes Offensive Definition of “Jew”

If you googled the word “Jew” on Tuesday morning, you would have been shocked to find that the first definition offered was a reference to bargaining in a “miserly or petty way.”

The definition came with a warning label that the verb was “offensive” and that the term’s genesis was a 19th-century antisemitic trope “associating Jewish people with trading and moneylending.” Tenses were even offered for the verb—“jewed” and “jewing.” The reference was attributed to the Oxford Languages source.

In the 1800s, Jewish people often made a living by lending money or trading goods, primarily because the countries where they lived (in Europe, Russia, etc.) had laws preventing them from other professions. We can see in America, where Jewish people are allowed to work in any profession, God's blessing is in His people. We can see in Israel that same blessing, as the amount of technology coming out of our tiny nation is so disproportionally high compared to other western countries.

Google eventually took down the antisemitic reference and apologized. The internet giant blamed the bad definition on the third-party license experts they rely on for their dictionary.

By Tuesday night, a new definition appeared, this time as a noun: “a member of the people and cultural community whose traditional religion is Judaism and who trace their origins through the ancient Hebrew people of Israel to Abraham.”

The World Jewish Congress issued a statement saying that it was “deeply troubling that Google artificial intelligence fails to recognize obvious anti-Semitic hate speech in featured results for the term ‘Jew.’”

“Our apologies. Google licenses definitions from third-party dictionary experts. We only display offensive definitions by default if they are the main meaning of a term. As this is not the case here, we have blocked this & passed along feedback to the partner for further review,” a Google representative tweeted.

241 views1 comment