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Spanish murder towns slam Google results

Alex Dunham · 11 Nov 2013, 17:02

Published: 11 Nov 2013 17:02 GMT+01:00

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Try typing Dumblane or Columbine into Google.

What do you think will be the first results the search engine brings up?

That’s right, school massacre.

The reputation of these two sleepy towns in Scotland and the US will no doubt be marred for years to come by the atrocities that took place over a decade ago now.

But is the world’s biggest search engine in any way responsible for keeping the “nightmare” alive?

That’s what representatives from numerous Spanish villages and towns with their own murderous tragedies are claiming.

They claim that potential visitors or just people with no previous knowledge of what happened in the past are being informed by Google, Bing and Yahoo of the most negative event in their history.

“Google’s algorithms very often prioritize negative news that do no favours for a great number of municipalities,” Francisco Canals, director of Legitimate Identity consultancy firm, told Spanish newspaper ABC.

“It’s unfair and it’s causing a great deal of damage.”

To Spanish readers, the town of Alcàsser may bring back memories of the terrible murder of three young girls in the 90s.

The small Valencian town has a Visigoth necropolis, a 15th century palace and numerous other monuments.

But Google it, and the first result will be “The Alcasser Girls”, in English too.

Same goes for Puerto Hurraco, a sleepy borough in southwest Spain where in 1990 two brothers carried out a massacre in which nine people died.

Type in the borough’s name and you’ll find it hard to find any pictures or information about the borough itself.

Story continues below…

“Google doesn’t punish,” said representatives of the multinational’s branch in Spain.

“It’s obvious that if a triple murder in a certain town is what most people have clicked on, that will be at the top of the classification.

The world’s biggest search engine thinks it’s in the hands of the townspeople affected to help improve the image to outsiders by publishing positive content online.

Canals also pointed out that Spanish towns with strange names, like El Pozo de las Mujeres Muertas (Dead Women’s Well) in Asturias, La Degollada (Woman with a slit throat) also in Asturias or Venta de Pantalones (Trouser Sale) in Jaen are also being affected by search engines’ algorithm systems.

Alex Dunham (alex.dunham@thelocal.com)

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