Friday, October 14, 2005
Censoring the Search Engine Results?
Search Engine Watch points to an article from the Guardian about chatrooms used by suicidal people making death pacts. If you decide to read the article, it may be a bit disturbing to some. The comments on the forum at SEW are interesting as well. If asked, my answer is no: search engine results should not be censored. Does this mean I condone or advocate suicide? No, it does not (I am not talking physican or assisted, that is another debate), but I do not think it falls to search engines to be doing this, or for the government to be telling them to do it. It is a form of censorship, and when I do a search, I want to get all the results, not just the filtered stuff. Now, some reader may ask, "but do you not agree that something like child pornography should be censored?" I abhor child porn, and the fate that such people that exploit children like that should be worse than anything Dante dreamed up. But again, it does not fall to the search engines to do so. It falls to law enforcement to find those sites and shut them down for good; the problem has to be excised at the source. As for youg people and children finding their way to the chatrooms to talk about killing themselves, this is something that falls to parental supervision. Every time I hear that kids were doing such and such, you will find me asking "where were the parents?" The supervision is their responsibility. And I know, it is not perfect. Someone out there may argue, "but hey, what if they want to commit suicide because their parents abuse or molest them?" I would probably answer that such an example is an extreme example not as likely to happen as they person posing the question would like to believe. Overall, I do not want search engines dictating morality. I think common sense can prevail. We can agree that young people committing suicide is not a good thing, and we can then find ways to better prevent it without resorting to censorship. Add to it that some researchers may need to find information on suicide (fiction, counselors trying to prevent it, etc.), so censoring would actually hinder them as well. The solution is not to have a hysterical response of "let's censor and remove all of this so no one can see it." When you do that, you take the easy way out. You fail to address the problems at their root by trying to cover the sky with a hand. More importantly, when you take this slope, it becomes easier to censor other things. That is not the answer. Just a thought.