A Google director has said the internet giant has more to do to tackle illegal content, but urged people to make their own judgments should they encounter unsavoury material online.
Matt Brittin defended the company’s efforts to remove hateful and harmful content from the search engine, as well as its auto complete function, which has been accused of diverting people towards racist and other discriminatory search terms.
The president of Google Europe also called for a simplification of UK tax rules, as he insisted the company paid the corporation tax it was asked to by the Government.
Reports earlier this year suggested Google’s auto complete options were automatically loading offensive search terms, based on what people had been searching for online.
Mr Brittin told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme the tool did help save time, adding: “But it’s algorithmic, and I think people understand that these are suggestions based on what other people are searching for.
“So we can always improve that and we work hard to do that, but I think people are smart and they realise that not everything you find on the internet is accurate and there’s a range of opinions there.
“I think you see people researching that well. We always have to do more, but I think people understand this is a world of choice.
“People have got more choice and more access to information than ever before, and they can therefore be better informed and make their own judgments.”
Mr Brittin said more effort was also needed to tackle illegal content linked to by Google.
He said: “It’s our job to make sure that we observe the laws everywhere we operate, and we help to remove hateful and harmful and illegal content, and we work very hard on doing that both with technology and of course with people - you can’t always use algorithms to solve these things.
“It’s an ongoing investment of energy, working in partnership with governments and others, to try to ensure that the internet is an overwhelmingly positive force for society, which I think generally people will accept that it is.
“We always have to work harder on those things.”
Google is one of several multinational companies to have been accused of avoiding tax, in spite of making billions of pounds of sales in Britain.
Mr Brittin said: “We think Google should pay its fair share in tax and everything else.
“The best way for us to do that is to pay exactly what the tax authority asks us to do, which we do, and also call for a simplification of the rules, because we don’t want to be in a situation where people think we’re not paying our fair share when we’re paying exactly what the Government does.
“The best way for us to make the biggest possible contribution in tax is to grow the size of our operations here, so 3,000 more people, a growing business means that we will be more successful and be a bigger contributor to the economy.”