Hey, Google, tell me what the Holocaust looked like: Visual framing of mass atrocities by search engines

Makhortykh, Mykola; Urman, Aleksandra; Ulloa, Roberto (8 April 2021). Hey, Google, tell me what the Holocaust looked like: Visual framing of mass atrocities by search engines (Unpublished). In: DACH 21: Kommunikation #(R)Evolution. Zürich. 7. – 9. April 2021.

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In today’s algorithm-driven media ecologies, search engines serve as key modulators of public knowledge about the present and the past. The paper investigates how this algorithmic gate-keeping influences the visual framing of mass atrocities using the case of the Holocaust, which is the iconic example of mass atrocities that is particularly hard to represent visually. For this purpose, it uses an agent-based approach to collect image search results for “the Holocaust” query in English, Russian, and Mandarin Chinese for a selection of popular search engines. Then, it uses qualitative content analysis to investigate which aspects of the Holocaust are visualized and information about which sites/episodes is prioritized. The preliminary findings suggest that the choice of the search engine has substantial influence on Holocaust representation and highlight the potential threats of trivialization of mass atrocities/popularization of denialist views arising from the algorithmic curation of information about mass atrocities.

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)


03 Faculty of Business, Economics and Social Sciences > Social Sciences > Institute of Communication and Media Studies (ICMB)

UniBE Contributor:

Makhortykh, Mykola and Urman, Aleksandra


000 Computer science, knowledge & systems
300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology
700 Arts > 770 Photography & computer art
900 History
900 History > 940 History of Europe




Mykola Makhortykh

Date Deposited:

05 May 2021 15:42

Last Modified:

05 May 2021 15:42

Uncontrolled Keywords:

Holocaust, search engine, bias, visual framing, historical memory, trauma, memory, Auschwitz



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