Google Instant Limits Search Results

October 29, 2010 Opinion

To “google” is “to search for something on the Internet using a search engine.” That is the definition of the verb that has become an intrinsic part of our everyday Internet experience. But wait, Google is not only a search engine and a verb anymore… it features Google Earth, Google Maps, Gmail and Google Fight (if you do not know what that is, you can google it). A newer, and popular on Failblog.org, feature of Google is Google Instant. Google Instant fills in responses as you type them into the search window. Go ahead and try it: type in “Jersey Shore is” and see what happens. I will wait. Okay, did you see that when you type in the first part of the sentence, a box pops up with different completions of the sentence, including “fake,” “trash,” “a joke,” and “a herpes nest?” Now try another one. Type in “Google is evil.” Note the mysteriously blank page as you hit “ev.” In fact, type in anything “is evil.” Blank box? Yes, indeed.

Google has a list of restricted words and phrases that will not prompt any suggestions in Google Instant. Now, most of the restrictions are understandable, with a litany of sex and drug related searches not popping up with a suggestion box. And if you hit “enter,” you will still be directed to a list of Web pages as usual. A lot of the restricted phrases I will not repeat, but you can find a comprehensive list here: http://www.2600. com/googleblacklist/. However, I do have a problem with a few inexplicable words Google banned. Try another experiment: type in “webcam.” Notice the blankness at about the “a”? Now, come on. That could be a perfectly innocent search. Maybe you want to buy a new webcam and would like to see some reviews online. Now one more, and this is the one that really gets me: type in “bisexual.” You guessed it, blankness at the “x.” Why would this bother me, you might ask? As an answer, simply continue our experiment. Type in “heterosexual,” “homosexual,” even “trisexual.” Those are all accepted words. Last one, I promise: type in “fag.” Yes, the arguably most hated and sickening word to a member of the LGBTIQQPA (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer, questioning, pansexual, ally) community is accepted by Google Instant. Now, anyone who has a good explanation for why a disgusting slur against a whole community is acceptable, but a term that a group of people use to proudly self-identify is not?

And I actually have no problem with Google Instant blocking some searches—I mean, I can understand “2g1c” being a restricted search, but bisexual? Webcam? Barenaked Ladies? That is a band name. Even “I hate” blanks after the “t.” If Google wants to restrict search suggestions in Google Instant, that is their prerogative. It is a private company and who am I to argue? But they really should not be so arbitrary in their blocked word choice.

There is no call for bisexual to be a blacklisted term when other identifications, and even slurs, of the LGBT community are not. If Google was really trying to eliminate offensive terms appearing in the suggestion box, you would think they would block “Jersey Shore is a herpes nest,” or “I think I got my sister pregnant” when you type in “I think I got my.” Seriously, try it.

Well done, Google, you really dodged a bullet there. I understand that people take offense to all types of things these days, and I commend Google for trying to be more politically correct. But honestly, maybe the restricted list should go back up for review.

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