For a short period in late February, the typing of the phrase “Autistic people should…” into Google produced such disturbing results as “be killed,” “die” or “be exterminated.”
After activists flooded the company with complaints, Google has agreed to take the rare step of eliminating the results from its normally free-flowing search algorithm.
“We applaud Google’s attempt to minimize the spread of this hostile and threatening rhetoric, as well as the efforts of the bloggers in the autism community to combat the spread of hate speech through positive messages,” Autism New Jersey spokeswoman Ellen Schisler told the New Jersey Star-Ledger on March 5.
Sparrow Jones, an Idaho autism activist, organized a protest called Flash Blog, which encouraged activists to write poetry and positive messages about autism.
“What we are battling is not the computer. It’s the societal attitude that produces all those searches,” she told the Star-Ledger. “We don’t need Google to tell us we’re not terribly popular.”