Google Pulls The Plug On Anti-Semitic ‘Coincidence Detector’ Extension

Different editions of Adolf Hitler’s “Mein Kampf” are on display at the Institute for Contemporary History in Munich. CREDIT: MATTHIAS BALK/DPA VIA AP
Different editions of Adolf Hitler’s “Mein Kampf” are on display at the Institute for Contemporary History in Munich. CREDIT: MATTHIAS BALK/DPA VIA AP

Google has removed the controversial browser extension called “Coincidence Detector” that flagged Jewish names, civil liberties groups, and others considered to have anti-White nationalist views. The Chrome plugin, which has lurked in Google’s app store for about five months, relied on a user-generated list of names that would then be highlighted on any given webpage.

The app’s database included Jewish celebrities such as Adam Levine, Sen. Al Franken (D-NY), convicted child rapist Jared Fogle, and civil liberty organizations such as the Southern Poverty Law Center and Anti-Defamation League. The app also highlighted presumed Jewish last names such as “Rogen” or “Lieberman” and listed the full names of several rabbis.

Google removed the app late Thursday, which had nearly 2,500 users and a five-star rating before it was shut down, for violating the company’s hate speech policy. Google prohibits speech that promotes hate or incites violence, a company spokesperson confirmed to ThinkProgress.

The app’s removal came after Mic broke two stories, dubbing Coincidence Detector as a tool white nationalists use to “track Jews” and exploring the social media habits of the alt-right — an extreme fringe of conservatism that embraces nationalism and some neo-Nazi values.

As Mic reported, the Coincidence Detector app surrounded Jewish names with three parentheses called “echoes” to denote Jewish people’s presence throughout history. Since the story broke, some Twitter users have reclaimed the meme as a sign of solidarity.

https://twitter.com/JeffreyGoldberg/status/738727426763718657

The controversy around Coincidence Detector comes at a time when hate acts against the Jewish community seems to be increasing. According to the Anti-Defamation League, there have been 56 anti-Semitic incidents reported in New England so far this year compared to only 61 incidents reported in 2015.

White nationalist sentiments have increased since the start of the 2016 presidential campaign last year. Google searches of terms such as “alt-right, “white genocide,” “pro-white,” and “black on white crime” have upticked significantly since 2013 with large spikes in 2015, according to a ThinkProgress analysis.

That surge of interest in white nationalism has been partially attributed to presumed-Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s campaign. Trump supporters have been reported to sling anti-Semitic remarks at Jewish journalists online. Trump hasn’t made blatantly anti-Semitic comments but has used Jewish stereotypes and coded language that typically implies a racial, ethnic, or sexist bias without overtly invoking a particular stance.