Sunday, March 12, 2006

The Google - Al Qaeda Link

Al Qaeda is using a service run by Google to publish propaganda and recruit terrorists from around the world.

And Google won’t stop them from doing it:
Al-Qaeda sympathizers are using Orkut, a popular, worldwide Internet service owned by Google, to rally support for Osama bin Laden, share videos and Web links promoting terrorism, and recruit non-Arabic-speaking Westerners, according to terrorism experts and a survey of the sites.

Most jihadist message boards on traditional Web sites are in Arabic and require users to know someone connected with the board before they can gain access. Social-networking services such as Orkut, Friendster, and MySpace, however, allow users to create personal profiles and associate with “communities” based on shared interests. After users join one of these services, they have access to the forum postings in any public community...

On Orkut, at least 10 communities are devoted to praising bin Laden, al-Qaeda, or jihad (holy war) against the United States. They can be found easily through a simple English-language search of the site...

Google, which operates Orkut, says it tries to balance the free flow of information against the appearance of objectionable material by keeping intervention to a minimum. Google spokeswoman Debbie Frost says the service may remove obscene, defamatory, or otherwise objectionable material from Orkut sites “but has no obligation to.” Frost did acknowledge that Google deleted some terrorism-related content that violated Orkut’s published terms of service.

I guess if Google is willing to censor it's search results for China, this really shouldn't be all that surprising. Nonetheless, it doesn't speak very well for Google, and it certainly doesn't help America in the GWOT if al-Qaeda is allowed to gather supporters via internet message boards.