Google Queries Reveal Potential “Underground” Anti-Semitism In France

French newspaper Le Monde issued a report using search query data to argue that the French are pre-occupied with whether their leaders (and would-be leaders) are Jewish. According to AFP, data from Google’s search suggest/auto-complete function indicates that French people are routinely searching on politicians’ names followed by the world “juif,” which means “Jewish” in French.

The article says:

Along with terms such as “IMF” and “2012″ — for those interested in [Dominique Strauss-Kahn's] global finance work or prospects in next year’s French presidential election — the fourth commonest search offered in French is “dominique strauss kahn juif” (Jewish) . . .

The Le Monde report’s author Stephane Foucart wrote that his findings reflected “a subtle and latent form of anti-Semitism, which seems only to manifest itself when face to face with a computer.”

An analysis of English-language searches apparently did not reveal the same prevalence of queries about Jewish identity. Not everyone, however, believes that French searchers are anti-Semitic:

Jean-Yves Camus, a Jewish political scientist specialising in anti-Semitism, interpreted the Autcomplete effect differently, seeing it as a natural “phenomenon of curiosity” in a country with by far the biggest Jewish community in Europe.

France, like most of the rest of Europe, has a long history of anti-Semitism. In the modern era (post WWII) governments have passed numerous laws and tried to be vigilant about outbreaks.

In he past decade, however, anti-Semitism has been on the increase in Europe. Search suggest reflects that despite long-standing French cultural norms against open expression of anti-Semitism it may have gone underground.

Related Topics: Channel: SEO | Google: Outside US | Google: Suggest | Google: Web Search

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About The Author: is a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land. He writes a personal blog Screenwerk, about SoLoMo issues and connecting the dots between online and offline. He also posts at Internet2Go, which is focused on the mobile Internet. Follow him @gsterling.

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  • http://rosmarin-search-marketing.com Myron Rosmarin

    This is a characteristic problem of so many search queries – trying to divine searcher intent based upon just a few words. It’s a huge leap to assume anti-semitism simply because searchers are appending “juif” to the name of a prominent politician who actually does have Jewish roots. The searcher could just as easily be hopeful that the individual in question is Jewish. If someone types [tom cruise] into the US version of Google, the second suggested search query is [tom cruise gay] … does it follow then that the United States has an underground homophobic element? (okay, so maybe it does, but you really can’t infer that from a search suggestion)

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