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Google Search Turns Up Possible Prisoner Abuse Photos

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Via John Battelle, news of an AP reporter locating new photos through Google of possible abuse of Iraqi prisoners by US soldiers that might predate those that came out earlier this year.

Navy Probes New Iraq Prisoner Photos from the AP details explains how the reporter came across the pictures after performing a Google search to research a story about new allegations of abuse.

The story doesn't provide details about exactly how the search was performed. It sounds like an ordinary Google web search was done, which lead to an online photo album hosted by picture sharing site Smugmug.

That page, which is not identified by URL but shown in this version of the AP story, is said by the AP to now be password protected. Google's cached version of it, again not identified, is said to remain in Google.

The photos might also have been found via Google Images, but I suspect not. The reason is because the AP story mentions that the "archived" version of the page remains in Google. If it were a Google Images search that had been involved, I'd have expected the reference to be about the "snapshots" of the photos themselves remaining.

Some will no doubt recall the issue of Google Images not finding pictures of Abu Ghraib prison abuse, which Google has said is due to its image database being several months out-of-date. These new photos, in contrast, might have been in Google Images given they appear to be from last year.

So, if you read about Google Images finding "new" photos of abuse when it couldn't find these older ones, keep in mind:

  • The new photos in this case are probably actually older than the Abu Ghraib pictures, so the database freshness problem isn't an issue.
     
  • We don't know that they were actually found via Google Images.

FYI, I'm still investigating Google's explanation about why the Abu Ghraib photos that at least one person says he saw now don't appear in Google Images. My More On Google Images & Google News Images post explains why the blending of Google News images into the Google Images doesn't quite answer that issue.


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