Oops: Google software gets truthy again, identifies Jerusalem as the capital of Israel

Oops: Google software gets truthy again, identifies Jerusalem as the capital of Israel
Priestly blessing conferred at the Western Wall in Jerusalem during the high holy days. (Image via ToI)

[Ed. – This is awesome.  “Google Truth”? Truth indirectly but impartially “curated” by computer software? Whatever it is, it’s been a beautiful thing so far.]

Pretty much nobody else sees it as the capital of any state. The city does not host one single foreign embassy. But if you type “Jerusalem” into Google, you’re likely to see an infobox that declares the city as the “capital of Israel.” This happens when doing a search from the U.K., the U.S., from Israel, and from the Palestinian Territories (and presumably from many other parts of the world).

Google is known for its lack of transparency about how and why it chooses to display, promote, or omit certain kinds of information. But there are only two likely explanations for Google’s one-sided stance.

First, it is possible that this is conscious decision made by a Google manager or engineer seeking to make a political point. However, because of the sheer volume of searches that it mediates, the company tends not to manually override its more organic results.

The second, and far more likely, possibility is that (like almost all Google search results) answers are produced not through direct human meddling, but rather in a much more indirect form of curation through databases and the models and algorithms that govern them. Yet, in the case of Google decreeing that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, it is likely happening because of an important change happening to the Web.

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