Every year Martin Luther King Jr. Day recalls the historic accomplishments of the civil rights leader and his work to dismantle segregation and racism in the country. During this time, it’s typical for people to google King to jog that memory. But as The Daily Beast points out, people googling Dr. King could stumble upon a website run by neo-Nazis that, instead of highlighting his activism, calls King a “sexual deviant.”
The site, run by the neo-Nazi group Stormfront, managed to make their website show up on the first page of Google when searching King’s name. The propaganda/conspiracy theory-filled site denouncing his January holiday claims that King possessed an “uncontrollable lust and propensity for violence.”
Stormfront is a white supremacist website created in 1996. Its creator Don Black is a former Grand Wizard of the KKK who purchased the MartinLutherKing.org domain in 2001, according to The Daily Beast.
The site appears elementary and the .org ending could mislead students into thinking the site is a credible source of historical information on King. On the bottom of the site, a link saying “Hosted By Stormfront” leads to a discussion board about King hosted by the neo-Nazi site.
Throughout different tabs on the site, King is referred to as a “communist” and “woman beater,” and it links to printable calling him “a philanderer, a drunk, a liar, a plagiarist, and a cheater.” Though Google attempts to push inaccurate and hateful sites lower on search results, it's still high because the site is often linked by people both supporting and denouncing it.
“Unfortunately, libraries and other authoritative places link to the site, often as part of tutorials warning against sites like that,” said Google’s Danny Sullivan in a tweet December 18. “In turn, they inadvertently pass on authority to the site.”
Sullivan said an easy solution to this would be for other sites to stop actively linking the website, while a more effective solution could take some time. “It's not something that will change overnight,” he tweeted. “We aim for algorithmic solutions. That's frustrating, I know, because it takes longer. But it solve a class of issue hopefully more broadly.”