Monday, April 7, 2008

Abortion and Database Censorship

Score one for list-serv journalism. Looks like the folks over at SLA-DBIO and MEDLIB-L uncovered a major case of censorship. The Popline database, which Johns Hopkins University maintains for the U.S. government, was reconfigured some time in the past few weeks so that searches of the term "abortion" yielded no results.

The official explanation from the database managers: "We recently made all abortion terms stop words. As a federally funded project, we decided this was best for now."

The news quickly swirled around the blogosophere and then on to the traditional media, which is still how most of us learned about it, I bet.

In response, Johns Hopkins decided to reinstate "abortion" as a search term in the Popline database. Very 1984.

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