Google Instant filters put gay and lesbian on a par with rape, racism and paedophilia
Google's new Instant search (where results are displayed as you type, rather than waiting for you to finish typing and press search) has filters in place to stop, for instance, results for "cock" appearing midway through typing "Cockfosters" or for results for offensive terms appearing unless you actively choose to see them.
But Google Instant is filtering words like gay, lesbian and hate crime, putting them on a par with terms like paedophilia, rape and nigger. Meanwhile it's allowing Instant results to be shown when you search for coon, necrophilia, kiddie fiddler, paki jokes and female genital mutilation.
How the filter works
Google says that:
"Q: If an offensive or lewd word is a fraction of my query, will Google push these results in front of me as I type?
A: ... autocomplete excludes certain terms related to pornography, violence and hate speech."
It also says that:
While we always strive to neutrally and objectively reflect the diversity of content on the web (some good, some objectionable), we also apply a narrow set of removal policies for pornography, violence, and hate speech.
What triggers the filter
Words/phrases that tigger its "pornography, violence and hate speech" filter include the following:
Gay, lesbian, clitoris, teen slut, pre teen models, coprophilia, rape, paedophilia, pussycat dolls, dirty sanchez, nigger, nude, naked, vagina monologues, ching chang chinaman, darkie, paris hilton, kendra wilkinson video, soapy tit wank, lesbianism, donkey knockout, huge melons, fingercuffs, funbags, jubblies, hate crime.
You can experiment with what's blocked/excluded by Google Instant by logging in to your Google account and searching at http://www.google.co.uk/webhp?sclient=psy. If you try to search for one of the blocked terms, instead of seeing Instant results, you just see a blank page and the words "Press enter to search".
Here's a screnshot if you type "lesbian" in - no results are shown unless you press enter.
What isn't filtered
While words/phrases that Google will show results for are as follows:
Heterosexual, sexuality, kiddie fiddler, female genital mutilation, necrophilia, islam is bullshit, obama is a muslim, david cameron is a prick, underwear pre, bint, stinky hitler, coon, ching chang china man, lindsay lohan, kendra wilkinson video watch, strip poker pictures, homosexual animals, bathing the dog, erection, paki jokes, eyeties, pikey, darkey, kaffir, racist jokes.
So here's what you see if you type "paki jokes" - a set of pages with racist jokes. These results aren't excluded / blocked - unlike when you type "lesbian", they are shown automatically.
(My search settings are set to "Filter explicit images only - default behavior".)
What is Google Instant trying to say?
This throws up a number of questions ...
- Why are gay and lesbian blocked? How are they "pornography, violence and hate speech"? What message is Google Instant giving out by putting them on a blocked list with terms like paedophilia and nigger, while allowing terms like heterosexual, necrophilia, kiddie fiddler, coon and paki jokes?
- Why is hate crime blocked but not paki jokes?
- Why are frankly laughable terms like jubblies blocked - but not racist terms like kaffir or coon? As a man, I may be projecting my own prejudices here, but those racist terms feel like hate terms to me - whereas jubblies seems just puerile.
The blocked terms appear to have nothing to do with what's shown on the results. Cum shot is blocked, but not money shot - even though searching for the latter shows up the wikipedia page for cum shot. Type "Peaches " at google.com and you can see the lyrics for "fuck the pain away" at result number two.
Worst of all, the (blocked) results for hate crime show pages addressing the problems; while the (non-blocked) results for paki jokes list racist "jokes".
So it would appear that Google Instant is filtering on the term itself, not the results. Which means it genuinely thinks that the terms gay and lesbian count as one of "pornography, violence and hate speech".
Google: Filters are needed, obviously. The way you've implemented them sends out the wrong message. They need a rethink.