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Tide of migrant BNP PR menaces Google News

News picks a bit illiberal?

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Google News, which last year accepted that press releases counted as news, now apparently thinks press releases from the far-right British National Party count too.

At time of writing a search of Google News for 10 + million kicked up a BNP press release on the first page of results, and a little Googling around with a selection of likely trigger words (think of them yourself, think 'that was in the past', think 'we're not like that any more', think 'migrant', think 'creeping Islamification of the West') reveals a reasonable-sized stack of BNP bulletins. BNP on its own, of course, gets you Banque Nationale de Paris, largely, which is as it should be. The Register owns a t-shirt for this outfit, but obviously only wears it in France.

As a largely unscientific control we chose the UK's number three political party, the Liberal Democrats, which is definitely a lot bigger than the BNP. Tight searches of Google, web, for various LibDems documents did tend to kick them up fairly high, but Google News seems not to have LibDem news content. This one, which strikes us as quite newsy, and has even appeared in a real newspaper, for example, only shows up via the newspaper. Over at the Labour Party this one does appear, alongside the Home Office press release it's a straight lift from. We weren't going to do the Tories, but the tempting "Hoon guilty of inexcusable incompetence" turns out to be a Google News Googlewhack. But not for long, we expect (Update: Now it's not - The Telegraph liked it).

Anyway you get the idea. If press releases for political parties are OK as news, which they quite possibly are, then how do you judge what counts as a press release? But then why not automatically count what a major political party calls news as well, if you're going to count stuff a small and not very nice one calls a press release?

As we pointed out in our earlier take on press release as news, the road forks into the swamp at the point where you need to interface the automated system and the human judgment. And you can't plead innocence on the basis that you can't censor, because censorship has to be a basic component of the selection process.

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